Career and Work

Who’s Packing Your Parachute?

Charles Plum, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, was a jet fighter pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured and spent six years in a Communist prison. He survived that ordeal and now lectures about lessons learned from that experience.

One day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up and said, “You’re Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!”

“How in the world did you know that?” asked Plumb.

“I packed your parachute,” the man replied. Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude. The man pumped his hand and said, “I guess it worked!”

Plumb assured him, “It sure did – if your chute hadn’t worked, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Plumb couldn’t sleep that night, thinking about that man. Plumb says, “I kept wondering what he might have looked like in a Navy uniform – a Dixie cup hat, a bib in the back, and bell bottom trousers. I wondered how many times I might have passed him on the Kitty Hawk. I wondered how many times I might have seen him and not even said ‘Good morning, how are you,’ or anything because, you see, I was a fighter pilot and he was just a sailor.”

Plumb thought of the many hours the sailor had spent on a long wooden table in the bowels of the ship carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn’t know.

Now, Plumb asks his audience, “Who’s packing your parachute? Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day.”

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You Shall Be the Miracle

“Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be the miracle.” – Phillips Brooks

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Great Things

“If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.” – Nathan Hill

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Leaders, Knowledge, and Power

“If a leader is to be effective, he or she must always be learning. I don’t mean just gaining knowledge about a subject, but knowledge about his or her people as well, what motivates and inspires them. The effective leader must watch, listen, and learn about the environment and the culture where they are operating. Knowledge truly is power. Recognizing and learning how to best use that knowledge is what makes a leader powerful.” – Greg Taunt

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Answering Email is Not Our Work

“Email should be something that helps our work, rather than a tool that controls us. I don’t want my tombstone to say: ‘Here lies Jocelyn K. Glei, she checked all her emails.’ It sounds a bit underwhelming doesn’t it?” – Jocelyn K. Glei

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Lighthouses Just Shine

“Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” – Anne Lamott

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Use the Right Equipment

“When people ask what equipment I use, I tell them, ‘my eyes.'” – Ansel Adams

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Would You Rather

“If your company mission is to climb a tree, which would you rather do: hire a squirrel or train a horse?”

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Building Your Reputation

“You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.” – Henry Ford

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Keeping Your Sanity (or Insanity) at Work

  • At lunch time, sit in your parked car and point a hair dryer at passing cars to see if they slow down.
  • Page yourself over the intercom. (Don’t disguise your voice.)
  • Insist that your e-mail address is or Elvis-the-King
  • Every time someone asks you to do something, ask if they want fries with that.
  • Encourage your colleagues to join you in a little synchronized chair dancing.
  • Put your garbage can on your desk and label it “IN.”
  • Develop an unnatural fear of staplers.
  • Put decaf in the coffee maker for 3 weeks. Once everyone has gotten over their caffeine addictions, switch to espresso.
  • Reply to everything someone says with, “That’s what you think.”
  • Finish all your sentences with, “…in accordance with the prophecy.”
  • Adjust the tint on your monitor so that the brightness level lights up the entire work area. Insist to others that you like it that way.
  • Dont use any punctuation
  • As often as possible, skip rather than walk.
  • Specify that your drive-through order is “to go.”
  • Sing along at the opera.
  • Go to a poetry recital and ask why the poems don’t rhyme.
  • Send e-mail to the rest of the company to tell them what you’re doing. For example: If anyone needs me, I’ll be in the bathroom.
  • Put mosquito netting around your cubicle.
  • Call the psychic hotline and just say, “Guess.”
  • When the money comes out of the ATM, scream, “I won! I won! Third time this week!!!”
  • When leaving the zoo, start running toward the parking lot yelling, “Run for your lives, they’re loose!”
  • Tell your boss, “It’s not the voices in my head that bother me, it’s the voices in your head that do”
  • Tell your children over dinner, “Due to the economy, we are going to have to let one of you go.”
  • Every time you see a broom, yell, “Honey, your mother is here.”
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