Anderson Cooper interviewed extreme athlete and adrenaline enthusiast JT Holmes on the latest installment of 60 Minutes. The team followed Holmes as he attempted to go down the Eiger Mountain in the Swiss Alps. He approached this challenge in a rather unique way. His plan was to ski down part of the mountain attached to a glider-like parachute called a speed wing. This would allow him to glide over rocky patches of the mountain. Then he would cut the speed wing loose and ski off a cliff. At that point, Holmes would ditch his skis and free-fall hundreds of feet before opening a parachute and landing safely on the ground.
If that sounds crazy to you, you’re in good company.
According to Cooper, more than 60 climbers have died on the Eiger. By anyone’s standards, this was an extremely high-risk endeavor. Which, of course, is why JT wanted to do it in the first place.
To understand the psyche of a person willing to take such a risk, Anderson Cooper asked JT, “You’re standing there on the top of the mountain. What goes through your mind?”
JT responded, “There’s two mindsets. There’s the Evel Knievel, which is kinda kamikaze and... who knows how it’s gonna work out? Will you hit the landing ramp or not?“
“And then there’s the James Bond. Bond is composed and dialed and he used clever pieces of gear which he developed with Q to outwit his opponents and pull off tremendous things.”
“Which one are you?” Cooper asked.
“I’m Bond,” said JT with a smile.
Holmes’ spent years meticulously planning and training for this run down the mountain. In fact, he memorized his entire path of decent. He removed as much of the unknown as he possibly could and waited until the weather conditions were perfect to attempt the run. Holmes not only survived the event, he went down the mountain multiple times.
I am not an extreme sport enthusiast, but JT’s diligent planning inspired me. He wasn’t interested in risk for risk’s sake. His challenge was to safely descend this dangerous mountain using three different extreme sports techniques. His careful planning allowed him to reduce as much risk as possible in order to do something truly extraordinary.
This lesson applies to all facets of life, including business. One can accomplish amazing things with the proper planning and training. How do you tackle important endeavors in your business or life? Do you fly by the seat of your pants and hope for the best or are you a meticulous planner memorizing your path of decent?
Are you Evel Knievel or James Bond?
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