Business lessons learned from skydiving (part 2)

(Second in a series)

“L wants you to let go of the plane!” my instructor shouted over the roar of the Cessna’s engine.

It was August 2019 and I was on my first tandem skydive, sitting in front of Cody Irby – my instructor to whom I was fitted – a mile and a half above the ground. The plane door had just popped open and we went over to jump out. I instinctively kept reaching out to grab handles on the plane, so Cody kept reminding me to let go. I was so scared that I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. The next thing I knew I was sitting in the doorway of the plane with nothing between me and the ground 7500 feet below. My fear turned red, my inner voice screamed, “Get back on the plane!!”

And then we stepped into the void.

Immediately the fear dissipated and was replaced by sheer high-octane excitement as we fell free at 120 miles per hour. To go from sheer terror to overwhelming excitement in two seconds is hard to describe. Then we were under the canopy; the roar of the wind gave way to the soft whine of the parachute as we sailed through the air. Miles of beautiful Colorado land lay spread out in front of me, in the background the breathtaking Rocky Mountains. It was peaceful and serene. After we landed, all I wanted to do was climb back on the plane and do it again.

Since 2007 I have worked with hundreds of floor dealers through my company Flooring Success Systems. My team and I help them in two fundamental ways: 1) Implement unconventional marketing and sales strategies to gain more customers and command high prices; and 2) take control of their business so they have the money and freedom to enjoy their ideal lifestyle. You can read some of their stories at

Every dealer I’ve worked with has one thing in common: to achieve their transformative goals, they need to make changes. Sometimes the necessary changes are major, requiring their entire company to be redesigned.

Big changes almost always cause fear of the unknown. And no wonder: our limbic system (‘fight or flight’ response) is adapted to protect us from danger, and the ‘unknown’ is dangerous. But this fear, which may have served our hunter-gatherer ancestors, does not serve us in the 21st century. After all, a bad business decision is unlikely to result in you being devoured by a saber-toothed tiger. But our limbic system doesn’t know this.

During my skydive training, when I stood in the doorway of the plane, my limbic system thought I was about to be killed. I had to ignore the fear and take action. When I did that, the fear disappeared. Every time.

When you consider “taking the plunge” to make transformative changes in your business, you may be overcome with fear. You’ve done your research, you know the changes are needed, you know you’re taking intelligent action, but fear is screaming at you. And it won’t go away. At that point, you must make a conscious choice to act despite your fear. On the other hand, life-changing rewards await you.

Jim is the founder and president of Flooring Success Systems, a company that provides floor dealers with marketing services and coaching to help them attract quality customers, close more sales, achieve higher margins, and work the hours they want. Visit for information.

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