This week, Jonathan Trappe attempted what would have been a first – crossing the Atlantic with a ‘balloon cluster’ – essentially a bunch of balloons tied to a rubber lifeboat. Sort of like the movie “Up”, but without a house, cute kid, funny dog, or even grumpy (but lovable) old man.
This isn’t the first time Trappe has tried something like this – previously, he’s flown an office chair, crossed the English Channel, and soared over the Alps. He also holds the flight time record for a ‘balloon cluster’ (over 14 hours)….but this time, he decided to attempt something no one else has done – fly a bunch of ‘recreational’ balloons across the Atlantic, when it’s still difficult to safely fly professionally-built and supported purpose-built balloons that far. In fact, of the 12 balloon flights across the Atlantic, only 7 pilots have survived the flight. Before Steve Fossett successfully circumnavigated the globe in a solo balloon, he failed 5 times….one of which included falling 27,000 feet into the ocean with his balloon on fire.
So, it’s a risky business to begin with….and for what reward? There’s not a big future in transatlantic passenger transportation (see: Hindenburg), and the celebrity value is questionable at best, especially when compared to the risk.
Steve Fossett knew the value of failure – So did Diana Nyad – she also failed repeatedly in her attempts to cross the distance from Havana to Key West….but was ultimately successful. I’m sure, at times, she thought about hanging up her wetsuit, but by getting out there one more time, she proved it was possible. I think Mr. Trappe may have a few more bumpy attempts….but with determination, he just might make it. He might have failed, but he was bold enough to do it with flair.
So, what are YOU failing at? Are you thinking big enough? Are you willing not only to make the attempt, but to make it so publicly that the failure won’t just go away quietly? As we move towards the last quarter of the year, many of us take stock of our goals and 2013 resolutions to see where we are….I’d challenge you to look at how far you’ve come, and look at what you MIGHT be able to do, if you are willing to fail big enough.