Flashback. In the pitch black, the sound of the helicopter’s rotor blades is deafening. The Jumpmaster gives the thumbs up as the light turns green. You leap out into the dark. The static line does its job and pulled the main chute from its rig. You count one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three then look up to check the canopy. A-ok. Phew, all looks good.
Ahead in the darkness you see the vague outline of a teammate’s canopy. Something is wrong. Upon closer look you see that he is coming toward you fast. Standard operating procedure for a mid-air collision is for both jumpers to pull their right toggles, thereby moving them away from each other. You turn right. He turns left and collides with you 1,000 feet from the ground.
Your canopy collapses into a wobbly sheet and you begin to plummet to the earth, picking up speed. Eight seconds remain in your life. What are you going to do now? Panic?
Your breathing slows down and your mind gets very focused. Time slows down, each second seems like a minute. You move deliberately through the malfunction checklist: Pull on riser to try to re-in ate canopy (nothing). Pull on reserve chute cord, punch the bag, rip the reserve out, and throw it as hard possible into the wind. The reserve shoots up and waffles around the main. You are screwed. You don’t panic, but take another deep breath as your gut tells you to continue to shake like hell the risers connected to the canopy.
Suddenly, the chute catches some air and the next moment you hit the ground like a ton of bricks. The canopy had only partially inflated, but it was enough to slow you down for a survivable landing. You wait a moment, savoring the intensity and surrealness of the situation. You are alive and unhurt, but have never come so close to death before. It was life altering.
What happened in those moments? How did you stay in control? Had you not taken every single action you took the outcome would have been different. You are grateful that you had spent hours visualizing this scenario in your training, down to every last detail. You are grateful that you had the courage to trust your gut. You are grateful that you learned how to maintain a Front Sight Focus with your mental training. Front sight focus is a metaphor referring to a shooter having a relaxed but intense gaze on the target through the front sight on his weapon, rather than through the rear sight or over them altogether. A Front Sight Focus, in the context of this lesson, means that we have integrated much of the learning in the previous eleven lessons, and can operate with a relaxed gaze while we achieve the most vexing of challenges, whether it is surviving a parachute accident or knocking the ball out of the park on a new business venture.
Though most of us don’t face the risk of plummeting to earth in a failed parachute jump, we all have major challenges to overcome. You may have read our “stand” in the past, which is the foundation upon which I built the Unbeatable Mind philosophy. The first line of the stand is this: “the world is unpredictable and chaotic.” The ground beneath us is always shifting and the volume of information coming at us is increasing and accelerating. How do we operate in this complexity and at this pace? We must develop an ability to maintain intense front sight focus. This allows us to function at high levels in any environment. Destiny favors the prepared.
When you employ front sight focus through your training and practice of Unbeatable Mind, you’ll be able to maintain total confidence, superior execution, and a winning attitude amidst any amount of turbulence. Front sight focus requires you to:
- Cultivate a deep sense of purpose about your personal mission
- Control your mind so as to eliminate distractions
- Win in the mind before stepping foot into the arena
- Lean into the future while maintaining superior execution in the present
- Be able to connect your purpose to the mission of your team and organization
- Understand the relationship between the Self, Team, and Organization as integrated parts of a whole, with you at the center