Getting Lucky

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Feeling Lucky

“I got lucky” are not my favourite words to hear.

A wise and very experienced skydiver once told me that when people start getting lucky, things are getting out of control. Something that resonated with me and that I have never forgotten. Skydiving is all about taking an existing skill set and expanding on it one increment at a time, about building your competencies within your abilities. It’s about having fun, growing and doing it within a manageable situation.

To my mind luck takes two forms.

Andre d'Argent Chief Instructor Skydive RobertsonFirstly, an event or a series of events which occur that are unforeseen and unplanned for. You rapidly respond and cobble together a response that utilises what you have been taught, have heard, have seen others do, tossed in a bit of instinct and you survive unscathed. As far as luck goes it’s the best kind or the worst. The best if you take away the lesson that things were out of control and it was simply good fortune that your response was appropriate. You take the event, think it over long and hard, discuss it with appropriate mentors. You learn and then pack it away in your box of tricks for the future. It can be a way of learning, not exactly a sustainable long-term model of learning but at least you gain, you become better and wiser. Or you can take the worst view. One that you are a gifted skydiver with superior ability and what has just happened simply confirms that. The fact that you were in an uncontrolled unplanned situation in the first place does not feature in the thought process. It detracts from the glory. You do not gain, you do not become better, you simply become a victim to the next unplanned for situation and this time you might not get lucky.

The second form is what I refer to as dumb luck. When you do something that might have killed you and you remain blissfully unaware or even worse, in denial. This comes from successfully executing something you were expressly told not to do, or you are so far outside your knowledge base that you haven’t the faintest inkling of what might have gone wrong. Usually getting lucky in this manner results in a heated ‘tuning’ on the ground or packing mat. LISTEN to what is being said. Pocket your ego, shrug off your embarrassment and learn. Then go back out there and don’t do it again until you are able to do it, been trained to do it and are allowed to do it.

When people get lucky it is because the situation has got out of their control and all that separates them from a violent accident is simply random chance. Pretty obvious stuff so far, what is not so obvious is that the situation was probably out of control long before they ever pulled their gear on. It may have started the night before with a late party or 5 minutes before by being too rushed to check gear for the nth time that day. It could have started with a YouTube video watched a week prior or frustration at not being able to achieve a certain goal only milliseconds before trying to execute it again in an inappropriate situation. We don’t often know exactly when things got out of control, but we know where they did, they got out of control with you, the person getting lucky.

Have fun folks, and DFU.