Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in 1947, the first human to do so, heralding in an age of supersonic flight, not to mention adding to the body of knowledge aiding space travel and space exploration. A momentous achievement no doubt. And a scary one to boot.
No one knew what would happen. How could they?
As Yeager, a US Air Force Officer and Test Pilot, approached the speed of sound in his in his Bell X-1 aircraft, it began to shakes and shudder almost uncontrollably 8 1/2 miles (13.7 km) up, far out of sight of his colleagues on the ground. When they heard a bang, they thought it was all over – poor Chuck – nice guy… Turns out the bang was what we now refer to as a Sonic Boom.
Wikipedia says: A sonic boom is the sound associated with the shock waves created whenever an object travelling through the air travels faster than the speed of sound. Sonic booms generate enormous amounts of sound energy, sounding similar to an explosion or a thunderclap to the human ear. The crack of a supersonic bullet passing overhead or the crack of a bullwhip are examples of a sonic boom in miniature.
Back then, no-one knew what a sonic boom was and so they thought Chuck had gone to the great aircraft hangar in the sky. Not our Chucky! Chuck Yeager broke through the sound barrier, and entered into a space of pure beauty, perfect calm and quiet, and when he landed, he entered the history books.
Anyway, I thought of Chuck Yeager and his breaking through the sound barrier whilst attending the All-Ireland Business Summit in Croke Park last week. A common theme running through the business leaders and inspirational entrepreneurs speaking from stage was one of pushing forward until break through is achieved.
As you grow in life and business challenges are placed in front of you by life – it is my opinion that this is life’s way of testing yours and my worthiness as it relates to the life we want to lead – a sort of Darwinian survival of the fittest (as in fit for purpose) philosophy around success.
I was honored to be accredited as Thought Leader in Entrepreneur Development by the All-Ireland Business Foundation at the same event and am delighted to accept it as peer recognition for my own striving forwards. The award, the speakers, the Chuck Yeager story had me think about another real life event I experienced and that is when I exited a plane 2 miles up voluntarily!
Yep, I decided several years ago that it would be a great idea to do a parachute jump so I signed up, got me sponsorship card out and started asking people for support.
I was SO excited. Right up to the moment my tandem partner (a qualified skydiver strapped, nay welded, to me) tapped me on the shoulder and gestured that we should ‘bum’ over and open the airplane door. I duly complied.
Then it hit me. As little fluffy clouds floated by front to back of the aircraft, I thought, “What in God’s name made me think this was a good idea?”
Then we were sitting on the edge, legs dangling into space. Me man pulls my forehead back so I am looking up at the ceiling of the plane and then starts rocking us – me! – back and forward, gaining momentum with each movement until suddenly we are OUT!
I tumble and see the plane, up there – between my legs – a perfectly good little plane, get further away by the second as we instantly go to terminal velocity (I kid you not, that is what they call it!) of 195km/h.
Me man rights us and now we are plummeting to earth (2 miles down) and it is SUCH A BUZZ! Pure speed, pure noise, pure exhilaration.
And then, all too soon it is over. Not that we land, but the diver pulls the ripcord and the parachute opens and, true as God, it is like we are floating, having a chat like you would over a cup of coffee – pure silence, pure bliss, pure beauty.
It’s about pushing through our fears. They are phantoms. They hide and distort the beauty beyond.
So, it’s the same stuff for entrepreneurs. We MUST propel ourselves forward (toward some predetermined worthwhile goal). We MUST encounter fear. We MUST encounter turbulence. That is life doing its job. Some of us break through, many falter; those that break through experience the calm, the beauty, the peace that awaits all those who dare and persevere.
Keep going my friend. Your barriers can all be proven phantom over time.
Ps. I went back for a second throw of the dice (bad choice of words there Colly) and opted for a second parachute jump some years later. This time the parachute DID NOT open! I’ll tell you more some other time…
Thanks for thinking with me.
Watch | Listen | Read | Think.
Did you enjoy that? Fancy a sip of some of my recent “Coffee with Colm” Blog posts:
- Is there Life Before Death? Or what, when, where, who are you waiting for before you start living? Click here.
- She was 8 when the Good Friday was signed. On its 21st anniversary, Lyra was murdered. What now? Click here.
- When was the last time you waved at a passing train or speeding, lights flashing, sirens blaring fire-engine? Why so long ago? Click here.
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