Lessons in Leading Change I Learned From Indoor Skydiving

Yes, that picture is me experiencing the feeling of free falling.

What could I possibly learn about Leading Change from Indoor Skydiving?

First let me explain Indoor Skydiving.  The entire experience takes place inside a vertical wind tunnel at wind speeds of 120 mph.  You wear the same gear as a skydiver, suit, helmet, goggles and ear plugs – not just for show, by the way, imagine what 120mph can do to a body in a wind tunnel if you change your body position too quick or too much.

Here are the Lessons in Leading Change I Learned From Indoor Skydiving:

Leading change requires thorough preparation for what to expect.

As you sign up for your experience, there is a live video stream of the other indoor skydivers in action in the next building.  When you enter the wind chamber building, you are seated just outside the glass enclosed wind tunnel.  Here you watch the indoor skydivers in person for about fifteen minutes.  Next you are led to a training room where you watch a video, learn the hand signals your instructor will use inside the wind tunnel (you can’t hear anything in the wind), and practice the body positions that you will use to change your flight.

Leading change requires constant guidance at first

As a beginner, you are never in the wind tunnel alone.  A professional instructor is always present; and more to the point, until you are comfortable flying on your own, they never let go of the handles on your suit.

Leading change requires the leader to understand that change can be scary

Of the many hand signals that you learn (raise/lower your arms, raise/lower your legs, pick your chin up) the one I remembered the most was the signal for “I am done and want to leave the chamber.” When I first felt the 120 mph winds in my face, I had trouble catching my breadth.  Within the first minute I gave the signal, I wanted out.  My instructor led me out of the chamber, gave me a pep talk and reminded me to breathe through my nose, not my mouth.  On my next round, the instructor reminded me to breathe correctly then said, “You can do this.”  I went in scared, but got the hang of it.

Leading change requires an understanding that small changes can have a big impact

Once I felt comfortable in the wind chamber, the instructor encouraged me to move my arms and legs to experience movement in the air.  They had instructed us that small movements would bring large changes in our position in the chamber – they were right.  I moved my arms down maybe four inches and raised a few feet higher, to compensate I moved my arms down about six inches and found myself on the ground.  I quickly learned that a couple of inches of change were sufficient.

One Response to Lessons in Leading Change I Learned From Indoor Skydiving
  1. Mabel Karimazondo

    Interesting Denis!I enjoyed reading this, visualising the indoor Sky Diving and learning from what you wrote. I asked myself whether would I do indoor skydiving and for the first time in my life, I don’t mind trying it if I’m going to learn this way.