Last week I watched ESPN's "Angry Sky," the documentary about Nick Piantanida's balloon ride and jump from the edge of space. If you haven't had a chance to watch this film, I recommend it as you'll find it interesting from many perspectives including how one man reached for his dream, what it takes to do something extraordinary, the power and challenge of collaboration, dreams and family, and more.
One quote in the film grabbed me. It was spoken by a man, Joseph Kittinger, who achieved the balloon height record prior to Piantanida. Unfortunately I didn't write down the exact words, but Kittinger questioned the way Piantanida would advertise his extraordinary plans before reaching success. On the other hand, Kittinger, who had the full support of the Air Force and is now a member of the International Space Hall of Fame, would say little of the planned conquest until success was met.
I thought a lot about that because I'm more like Piantanida than Kittinger in that regard. I listened to Kittinger's caution about Piantanida's approach, and have heard the same caution from leaders and colleagues. Yet, perhaps Piantanida, was a bit like me in that once he announced his quest in the media, it gave him the courage and commitment to go through with it. That's what happens with me. If I outline the plans online, then I feel a need to follow through. If the plans are kept quiet and just for me, I find I don't have the same sense of drive, confidence, or enthusiasm to fulfill the plans. I wonder why that's true.
Perhaps, like Piantanida, I am the first in my family to navigate the paths I'm on, and perhaps Kittinger arrived at his quest with greater confidence, experience, and support. I'm not sure. Also, perhaps Piantanida, like me, liked the discussion, debate, and share that results from sharing your plans ahead of the actual work. I get a lot of good ideas, contacts, and perspectives that way, and that interchange serves to strengthen my idea and action for the better.
If you watch the movie, you'll note that the area of sharing your plans is where Piantanida and I are alike, and in every other aspect of life we're mostly different (except for his commitment and love of family as portrayed in the film). I'm a true scaredy cat while he was as brave as anyone I've ever read about. I'm far more pragmatic and he was a tremendous risk taker.
So what do you think? Is it best to share your plans once you reach success, or is it best to share the plans with others first and then try it out unafraid of the fact that the plans may not meet fruition? As in most things, it's probably a little of one and a little of the other. In the meantime, I'll continue to think on this issue, and if you have anything to add, let me know.