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So over the weekend I went skydiving. Gorgeous weekend – Was impossible not to get some air time.

I’m going to tell you a story, and relate our industry to skydiving. And I apologize, because I promised myself, after my first year of skydiving, that I’d never do that again. See, most skydivers, when they start out, (and I am totally including myself in this) get into this “the whole world is like skydiving, here are fifty examples of why!” mentality We’re so in love with the concept, that we think it’s totally obvious that everything in the entire world should be like skydiving. And it’s cool for a few months, until we realize that not everything in the world is like that. (Hi, Sydney! I love you! Smooches!) 🙂 But hey, we all did it.

But I find myself telling this story anyway.

So parachutes have something called “Dive loops.” Essentially, a parachute’s rate of descent can be greatly increased by pulling down on these little material handles on either side of the parachute. Instead of flying straight forward and only a “little bit” down, you fall greatly down, and only slightly forward.

This is handy for getting lower quicker once your canopy is open. Problem comes if you do it too close to the ground, your canopy can’t “recover” in time for you to gracefully touch down onto the ground. This is often called “bouncing,” as in, what your body does, and leads to many broken bones, and getting made fun of unmercifully.

Over time, though, you learn to use your dive loops to make your descent that much quicker, and much more accurate – Think of it this way – the tighter you make your circle, the better accuracy you have as to where you land. To make the circle tighter, you need to go down faster. It might be scary, but if you’ve learned, and trust your skills, you’ll be fine.

Five years into skydiving, and I’ve never used my dive loops. Until this weekend.

At 1000 feet, I started my approach. I don’t know what made me decide to do it this time – I guess I knew I had the skills, and was sick of my accuracy being as crappy as it was. So, approaching my final turn, instead of simply turning my canopy using my toggles, I pulled down hard on my left dive loop – And I turned, and I descended. Fast. I knew how much altitude I had, and how much I had to play with before I had to “plane out” and level off. I trusted my skills, and trusted in what I learned.

And it WORKED. I planed out by 150 feet, with plenty of room to spare, and landed closer to center than I’ve ever landed in my life. I spent the rest of the day annoyingly telling anyone who would listen how well I did on my first dive loop-assisted-landing. I was positively giddy.

Breaking out of the normal approach landing was scary as hell, though – No doubt about that. Yet now that I’ve done it, it’ll be easier next time, and the time after that, until I know that I’m good at it, and it’ll become second nature to me – muscle memory.

Why do I bring this up? Muscle memory: Think about the last time you did something scary that you really, really wanted to do – Remember when it worked? Then you did it again, and again, and again, until it was second nature?

Think about that the next time you want to try something scary but are afraid to. Think about how great you’ll feel when you get it done – And think about how awesome it’ll be once you can add that to your repertoire – once you own it. Once its yours, and you can pull it out whenever you need it – Because you’ve mastered it. And that’s what life is. Mastering things, one at a time, and learning from the times you haven’t quite gotten it yet.

Think about that the next time you’re afraid to do something – and then just do it. Worst thing? It doesn’t work, and you retool to do it again.

At least in that case, you won’t wind up with any broken bones.

Thoughts? Lemme hear them below.

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