I realize today — I didn’t realize it at the time — that I had a close, personal relationship with risk as a young man. It was unconscious and I never thought about it. It just happened.
I didn’t climb Mt Everest, but I did lie about my age to get a job in construction, dragged drowning Fredos from the surf, dated the Prom Queen, stole and consumed watermelons, taught myself how to surf, went off to school without ever seeing it, put myself through college (traded 5 years of service for an engineering degree), learned how to blow things up, cut roads into mountains in foreign countries with explosives and dozers, learned how to command men in difficult situations, Australian rappelled head first out of helicopters, skied the double black diamonds (since wised up) and jumped out of perfectly good airplanes for money.
Later in life — after getting an MBA and leaving the Army on the heels of the Vietnam War — I would tell people that everything I ever needed to know to found and run companies I’d learned as a platoon leader and company commander in the combat engineers. Not an original thought, plenty of veterans have had the identical experience. Hire veterans!
Without feeling it in real time, I’d become anesthetized and totally comfortable with risk because I’d been sheep dipped in that ethos. It was not a conscious realization; it was an accident.
Which brings me to the point of what I want to say today:
Jump. How much talent goes unfulfilled because a man or a woman fails to take the leap?
I care not a whit as to the why, but I am greatly troubled that a great deal of talent, skill, success is lost to the entire world because of the failure to throw a thimbleful of courage into the cocktail of life.
One more time — timidity kills more potentially successful ventures before they get started than any other force.
The greatest pianist in the world may be sitting across from you on the R Train but she never found the courage to tinkle the ivory — why? Because she did not take the leap.
So, here is the message: JUMP!
When you jump out of a perfectly good airplane the first time, the Blackhats will ensure you jump as they will administer a size 12-13 Corcoran jump boot on your ass and turn you over to gravity and training.
In that pic above, I am wearing the Corcoran jump boot. Great support for your ankles. Lousy field boots. I once saw a man land and break his leg/ankle, the bone piercing his jump boot. Ugly sight.
The second time you jump you earn the $60/month stipend they used to pay because you make an informed consent — you know what you are doing and you know what will happen.
The third or fourth company you found is not scary because you know WTF is going to happen.
Ahhh, but that first one — it requires you to jump, to leap into the unknown with a jack hammering heart, sweaty palms, a dry mouth, the derision of those who claim to love you, the scorn of lesser mortals, and personal fear of the unknown, but there is a solution: just JUMP.
Do not take counsel of your fears. Do not take counsel of fools. [The greatest oversupply in the world? Bad advice.] Close your eyes, jump.
Jump. Jump. Jump.
Do not go to your grave thinking — I could have been a contender.
Now, get out there and bite the ass off a grizzly bear. Jump.
But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car. Jump!