On October 24, 2014, Alan Eustace, then Senior Vice President of Knowledge at Google, jumped off a helium balloon from stratosphere, creating two world records – longest and highest (135,890 feet) free-fall than any other human being.
In all, he took just 15 minutes to complete the record-breaking fall.
Just 15 minutes.
It doesn’t look too difficult: he donned a special suit, took a helium balloon from Roswell, New Mexico, ascended to 135,890 feet, jumped, opened the parachute few hundred feet above the ground, and… record accomplished.
However, it wasn’t that straightforward.
Rather, it was arduous.
Behind that 15-minute fall was 3 years of preparation, during which he overcame several challenges: reinventing balloon-launch process, designing a custom parachute, and replacing the company contracted to build the communication system, among others. And it took longer than expected, which naturally tested the team’s patience and resources. It wasn’t his innate aeronautical skills (remember, he worked at Google) but his growth mindset, or willingness to learn and persevere, that made this world record possible.
But, any big performance – more so when it’s world-record beating – takes time and a team to deliver. In most cases (such as sporting feats), this is evident, but sometimes (as in this case) not.
If you evaluate his success through the prism of three filters, he was clearly motivated (otherwise it wasn’t easy to stay put for three years, working through several difficulties), worked hard (three years), and had a supportive environment (great team and access to best equipment).
Related post: Growth Mindset Example: Chinese Bamboo [Video]
If Mary is the best in your class in Math, then it’s almost certainly a result of her growth mindset – those three years she has already put in – and not a result of an uncommon genius
If you’re attempting something big (a relative term), and if it’s taking more time and effort than you expected, then it’s common. Get over your frustration and curb the temptation to take a shortcut. Though, periodically evaluate if you’re doing the right things required to achieve your goal. And if you don’t succeed, one of the likely reasons is that you fell short on those three years.
Question: What has been your 15-minute and 3-year moment?