How to do a jump from the stratosphere
Oh my god – he did it! Felix Baumgartner accomplished his amazing, record-breaking jump from the stratosphere! I tell you, I was nailed to my couch, biting my nails until he finally touched the ground safely.
I think there are a couple of things we can learn from this record-breaking experiment:
If have to emphasize this first. Yes, Felix was the leadership personality, and he was the one to risk his life, but without his great scientific team, the whole experiment would have been impossible. Aeronautic engineers, medical staff… and not to forget the great Joe Kittinger!
The reason why this is so important to me: I want to cite from one of my favorite documentaries, which is “I am” by Tom Shadyac: Humans are not the fastest, the tallest or the strongest being on this planet. Yet we managed to run through this outstanding evolution. Because our greatest strength is collaboration. Everyone is a piece in the puzzle and together we make a bigger picture. Too often we are trained to be the best, to be outstanding and be egoistic. But really amazing achievements take place because of collaboration.
Mens sana in corpore sano! None would neglect the importance of exercise these days. But this mission required extraordinary physical strength and condition. And last but not least – exercise strengthens our mind, too.
I found a photo on the stratos website showing Felix training with a kettlebell – I think my dear friend Marianne of myomytv.com would like that! (And if you wonder, why I don’t post the photo here: Sorry guys. There are some nasty laws here in Germany allowing laywers to cover bloggers with written warnings worth 15.000 Euro if you are not taking care about every little licensing detail.)
3. Mental Strength
How much mental strength does it take to step out the capsule and jump? I mean – you cannot climb 39 km with a balloon, take a look outside the window and go like “Uh, sorry, capcom, I’m about to wet my pants, can I just come back home again and hide unter your T-shirt?” In this video sport psychologist Michael Gervais points out, that first of all you need to have a clear vision, and if rough times make it difficult to stick with it, you can overcome these problems by being aware of and working on your emotions. So Felix managed to soak up every little second of the jump, and to keep calm and make the right decision when starting to spin. Make your dream a detailed plan, believe in yourself, be present – and go for it.
4. Eating an elephant
In the first interview after his high-altitude jump Felix was asked if he sometimes thought that this was too big for him. And he said: Yes, many times! The way he coped with this what how you would eat an elephant: One bite at a time. Break the mission down to smaller chunks, and after achieving the one small goal, go for the next one. Now that’s smart, isn’t it?
5. Be generous with your knowledge
I have to mention the great Joe Kittinger here. Project Excelsior was a military experiment to test high altitude pilot ejecting systems. No extra psychological training to stand this challenge, no medial hand-holding, no support from fans all over the world, just a jump from a high altitude to prove that pilots can survive this and that the droug chute works – for an Air Force Captain’s salary. He could have been like “Hey you whippersnapper, you have no idea, I am an Air Force captain, who are you?” But he decided to be generous with his knowledge and be a mentor for Felix.
Unfortunately (and I agree with Amy Shira Teitel) Red Bull missed the great opportunity to tell his story and to shed more light on the scientific part of the mission.
But to everyone who doubts that some of the inventions can be used in the future of space explorations: I highly recommend to watch the TED talk from Jonathan Clark, whose wife lost her life in the Columbia accident in 2003. He dedicated his life to develope crew survival systems in space crafts.