Monday, November 14, 2011

Bungee Jumping the McDonalds Way!

A few years ago I took a personal development course on how to remain calm and centered on the inside, while being a warrior on the outside. It was a great 6 day camp in the middle of beautiful
mountains, breathtaking scenery, and great people. The course was all experiential, action based, and interactive. It wasn't one of those courses where you have a lecturer go up on the stage and give a long talk. Instead, we were constantly challenged by organizers to do things, make things, break things, and watch ourselves in a variety of situations. I learned so much about myself through that course, but one specific experience that I want to talk about today is one of bungee jumping!

We were asked to think about and write/draw something that we wanted to let go of. It could have been a negative emotion (anger, hatred, sadness, etc.), a bad habit (smoking, negative thinking, nagging, etc.) or a life situation (job, marriage, financial status, etc.). We then had to take our declarations, hold them up, and say them out loud for the rest of the group. Immediately after the declaration, the group members surrounding the jumper would count down 3, 2, 1, Go! and we had to jump!

This was not something to sneeze at. I am talking about a 160 foot jump off of the edge of a bridge over a rushing river with cold glacier water. Nevertheless, everyone jumped! Every single man and woman in our 60+ group regardless of their age, fear of heights, and physical ability, jumped. It was amazing to see sixty something year old grandmothers bungee jump off of a 160 foot bridge. The energy of the crowd was through the roof. With every jump, there was the loud cheer and applause. Each jumper would come back up after their jump to cheer for the rest of the gang. Everyone was helping everyone else, giving them tips, telling them how great it would feel, and infusing them with self confidence and encouragement.

I thought a lot about the reasons why everyone including myself jumped and I have no doubt it was due to the setting and the amazing group of people there. How else can you explain the 100% success rate? People are different and when faced with a scary task like this, not everyone behaves the same way. It surprised me though that everyone went for it. I do not have fear of heights and actually like doing intense dare devil activities. But would I have done it that day, that quickly, and that easily had I gone by myself? Or would I have made plans to go only to cancel a few times due to other distractions? Wouldn't I have hesitated much longer at the top before finally jumping? Would it have felt as good, had I done it alone? 

One important factor was that this group was not only cheering and encouraging, but also not taking no for an answer. The setting was such that if you decided not to jump, in order to leave the bridge, you had to open a path in the middle of the crowd that had circled you. I think the idea of disappointing all those spectators might have been scarier for some than jumping itself!

When I left that day I promised myself that I would always do my best to surround myself with the people and environments that bring out the bravest and the best in me. Wouldn't it be nice if we had a support group of like minded people who wanted us to succeed as much as, if not more than, we want to succeed? Wouldn't it be nice to have a group of people around who hold us accountable and do not accept defeat from us? Wouldn't it be nice to have a group of people who believe in us and do not think we are too old, too young, too inexperienced, too poor, etc. to succeed?

In business we learn that the reason companies like McDonalds are successful is that they have created a system that runs like a factory, regardless of who is operating it. Imagine if we were able to create this “system” in our lives! Imagine if we created an environment that would not allow failure, just like the bungee jumping experience did not. Imagine creating processes, habits, and peer groups that result it excellence in our lives regardless of what we set our mind to and how many limitations we think we have.

I have been thinking about this a lot and am therefore creating a new site called “i-empowered” hoping to create some of that environment online. I am starting with a blog, but will continue by adding resources such as list of personal development classes, videos, books, and teachers, reviews, and the ability to create specific support groups and processes. Please spread the word and send me stories that you would like to share. I am hoping we can all go there, declare what we want to achieve or let go of, hear the cheering of the crowd that would not take no for an answer, and then jump!

1 comment:

  1. McDonald’s is very interesting choice as example of corporate success.

    There are two reasons McDonald’s is doing very well right now: huge volatility in grain prices and fragmented restaurant market. A lot of small competitors got killed by high grain and meat prices. That opens McDonald’s space to grow market share and expand profit margins.

    Current environment is very favorable for big restaurant chains with huge pricing power. Yum Brands and Tim Hortons are doing very well too (not to mention Chipotle). Every system looks good when positively impaced by all trends.

    Are you considering to open McDonald's store ? :)