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Thomas Cherney - How paragliding has helped me professionally (Part 1)

I am now coming up on my 3rd summer of paragliding, and while I still feel like I have everything to learn, the sport has already taught me some valuable life lessons. Paragliding has changed my perspective on a lot of things, but the biggest surprise was how it has helped me professionally. Below are some of the principles paragliding has taught me (which you can read comfortably from your chair on the ground).

But before I dive in, you’re probably wondering why I first got into paragliding... I don't actually have a reason, but a better question might be, why not get into paragliding. You can literally fly. Like a bird. That's enough reason for me. 

Principle 1 - Take the time to learn it the right way, seek out the experts

Yes, I have a paragliding license, and yes, I am still training. If you are serious about anything in life and you want to be good at it, then you need to learn things the proper way. This is particularly important in situations where your life or your career is on the line. A solid foundation is important, and in paragliding, I am taking the time to seek out and learn from the best. I have taken the same approach to business and the impact has been huge. #StayHumble #LearnFromTheBest

Principle 2 - Trust your training and the process

Even though I have done a lot of training, standing on the edge before take-off still terrifies me. When you start running forward and the wing comes up, you often only have seconds to correct it if things go wrong. You have to trust that your training and instinct will take over in these types of situations. If I never learned to trust in my experience, then I would probably never take off. Learning to trust your training and instinct has also been key to getting through stressful situations at work. Uncertainty and lack of confidence can be crippling. Take the time to prepare, trust the process, and take the leap. #TrustYourTraining #TrustYourInstinct

Principle 3 - Take calculated risks, backup plans are a good idea.

While paragliding is technically risky, I would never take off unless I felt 100% safe about it. We battle with mother nature thousands of feet above the ground, but we also carry a reserve parachute. I could go on and on about rewards that come from taking risks, but my point here is you can take big risks and still be safe about it. The same applies to business, backup plans are never a bad idea…. Life is too short so take risks, just make sure you have a plan for when things don’t go your way. #LifeIsShort #TakeRisks but #BringAnExtraParachute 

Principle 4 - Remain calm when the shit hits the fan

In case you didn’t know, our wings are made of fabric, which means when things get rough up there, the wing can collapse… As you can imagine this can be a stressful situation, and it’s one you have to face on your own. Panic doesn't get you anywhere, and instead, you have to remain confident and react calmly. A lot of accidents happen because pilots freak out, react out of fear, and actually make things worse. We all face challenging situations, but we need to learn not to panic or stress when things go wrong. Instead: remain calm, make a calculated decision, and act quickly & confidently. #KeepCalmFlyOn

Principle 5 - Nothing wrong with staying on the ground

There is a very small window of weather we can fly in, and this window is even smaller when you are first learning to paraglide. It can be tempting to want to fly, but with higher winds come higher risks. It’s important to know your personal limits and make the decision to fly for yourself. Fortunately, the paragliding community is great about respecting everyone's comfort level and there is never any shame in walking down. The lesson here, only take the risks you are comfortable with, don’t let others pressure you into a situation you are not prepared for. #LiveToFlyAnotherDay

Principle 6 - Good things come to those who wait

You have heard of paragliding, but have you ever heard of parawaiting? For every hour of good flying, there are about 5 of sitting around waiting for the winds. In fact, I have driven over six hours to a flying site, only to get skunked by the weather for an entire weekend! This is by far the most frustrating part of the sport, but I have learned to enjoy the downtime and make the most of it with my friends. And when the winds finally do come around; all that waiting is sooooo worth it. This is also so true in life and business; most things don’t happen overnight, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't pursue them. Be patient, enjoy the journey, and never give up. #ItsWorthTheWait

Principle 7 - Learn from your mistakes

Not all my landings or take-offs have been pretty (some have even involved the trees...), but once I am safely on the ground, I always go out of my way to figure out what went wrong so I can avoid it in the future. Growing up I often saw mistakes as a failure and wanted to hide them, but I have learned that mistakes are only a failure if you don’t learn anything from them. This is also true for business and has been a real game-changer for me personally. You need to be careful not to make big mistakes that will take you out of the game. When things do inevitably go wrong, take the time to reflect back and learn the lesson. It’s only a failure if you don’t learn anything from it. #LearnFromYourMistakes

Though my knees still shake before every launch, paragliding has become a true passion of mine. I plan my yearly calendar around flying, and I spend most of my summer weekends in the air or sitting on mountaintops waiting for the wind to change. I still have everything to learn, but I am looking forward to a life of soaring through the skies.

See you up there!

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