Leadership: Leaders push themselves past their comfort zone

By Linda Perez

When the opportunity to tandem jump with the US Army’s Golden Knights presented itself I said “yes” without hesitation. I did not have an “official” bucket list but if I did, completing a parachute jump would be on it.

I arrived at the training site and was greeted by a host of cameramen and photographers. For us? No, actually for the Mayor of Addison and two T.V. personalities who were also jumping that day. Unfortunately, we got rained out but returned two days later to blue skies and great weather.

When I found out I would be jumping with the Tandem Team Leader, SFC Mike Elliott, I knew I was in good hands. SFC Elliott had tandem jumped with George H. W. Bush so if he could safely deliver a President, then an Associate Director from the Hart Center for Engineering Leadership should be no problem.

As we began the ascent, there were some last minute instructions from SFC Elliott and a bit of Q&A with the camera man. I did not realize how high we were (12,000 ft.) until I stood at the door of the airplane and it was time to jump. Before I knew it we were out the door and then free falling and all I could do was smile. 120 m.p.h. winds, a beautiful view of Dallas, a skilled instructor, and the surreal thought that, “I can’t believe I’m really doing this!”

I would challenge our Lyle Engineering students to develop their leadership potential by trying experiences which push their comfort level. Everyone gets afraid when they try new things but leaders push through their fears. Completing the jump allowed me to see what was on the other side of a life changing experience. Even if you’re afraid, sometimes you have to do it afraid.