Earlier this year, our partners at Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) invited a few members of the HR Florida State Council to jump out of an airplane with the Golden Knights, the U.S. Army Parachute Team. The Golden Knights’ winter home is in beautiful Homestead, Fla. and they provide this experience to further strengthen the partnership between the military and employers.
I have been fortunate enough to go skydiving twice before for fun (and lived to tell the stories!), so I “jumped” at this opportunity to share the skies with the Golden Knights. I was joined by Ana Swiger, council secretary, and Tammie Eldred, district director – district 1 and leadership conference director. It was the first time for both of them and I am so proud that they said yes to this incredible opportunity.
We drove onto the base and immediately saw the trust and teamwork from the parachute packer to the video team, the pilots, the parachute team and so many more. As my tandem instructor Ace said, “You are now in the most committed short-term relationship you’ve ever been in.” While a majority of the team has been working together for years, every jump is well calculated and requires the utmost respect and preparation for the unexpected. When you are jumping from two and a half miles above the Earth’s surface, you want to check and double check everything. This superior level of professionalism and accuracy was not present in my prior jumps!
Before suiting up, we were shown an instructional safety video and then briefed by one of the parachute team members. We learned three critical instructions, which parlay nicely into any situation in life, military or civilian.
- Yes, they are rich in potassium. Yes, our jump suits made us look like bananas. The real meaning behind why “banana” is important is that it means to arch while you are free falling and “no sad banana” was said to provide a funny visual and discourage a forward slump. It is always best to have good posture. Stand up straight, arch, and present yourself for the fun free fall of life!
- Breathe! Breathing helps in every situation. Need to have a tough conversation? Breathe. Had a rough day at work? Breathe. Concerned about COVID? Breathe. Taking time to breathe, to center yourself, to meditate does wonders for your mental health and well-being and brings clarity to every situation.
- Have fun! This was my personal favorite as fun is one of my core values. I understand that life is not all rainbows, puppy dogs, kittens and unicorns, but whenever I have an opportunity to create fun or insert fun elements into any task, I do it. It makes life more enjoyable, it’s more engaging for your team, and it leads to better stories and satisfaction. Sometimes that fun simply starts with a smile. J
Life is about experiences and relationships, and our jump with the Golden Knights fulfilled both on various levels – seeing our dedicated military men and women in action; spending time with our amazing partners at ESGR; Ana, Tammie and I were able to share this experience together, and now I can share my story (and a few photos) with you.
When fun opportunities present themselves, even if you are scared, say “yes.” Embrace life, support and hire our military and their dependents, and remember: Banana, Relax and Smile.