He wind sounded like a hurricane, thought Jim Cope as he stared nervously at the green and brown patchwork quilt spread out far below him. Usually, his feet were firmly planted on the ground in Walnut Hills, California, where he runs his landscaping business. But within seconds on that day, Cope, 46, would plunge in a parachute to the landscape below.
You still have a chance to back out. Nobody has a gun to your head. Cope reminded himself that he was jumping tandem–with a partner attached. And I know he doesn’t want to kill himself. Emotions swirled through Cope. This is the test. Are you going to do this? Then the landscaper leapt out of the plane, tumbling across the sky.
Even in the best of times, entrepreneurs have gone to extremes, hoping to improve their businesses. But these are strange, often turbulent times, and as the 21st century continues to evolve, entrepreneurs who want to evolve with it will frequently find themselves going to the edge. Are you ready?
Of course, to take your company to the next level, you don’t have to make a 10,000-foot jump to Earth. Cope employed an extreme coach to help him manage overwhelming situations, but your idea of extreme might be toiling tirelessly to finish a 14-day project in three.
So take a deep breath, and consider how your company might inject jet fuel into some of its practices. After all, extremes aren’t just limited to wacky sports or caffeine-spiked sodas.
Extreme Personal Development
You think reading Who Moved My Cheese? is enough to propel your company to the top? Sometimes, you need more. Which is how Jim Cope found himself hiring Rich Fettke to be his extreme coach. Fettke is a business or life coach–but to the extreme. He specializes in taking groups of executives and entrepreneurs to places like Yosemite National Park to scale mountain cliffs.
Nobody gets hurt–safety equipment reigns supreme–but the idea is that his clients discover something about focusing, courage and the benefits of working with a team, reports Fettke, author of Extreme Success. Often the lesson learned, says Fettke, is, "If I can climb up a 50-foot cliff, I can dial up an executive sales vice president."
But for entrepreneurs who need more–and Fettke takes individuals climbing Mt. Diablo, an almost 4,000-footer in Northern California–there’s always bungee jumping or even skydiving. Enter Cope, who went mountain climbing the day before leaping out of the plane. "I’ve had a hard time relaxing," he says. With five employees, Cope is doing more marketing, sales, payroll and employee relations than planting flowers and trees, he says. "Margins are low, so if you screw up just a little, you don’t make money," says Cope, whose Cope Landscaping is currently an $800,000 business.
And so, like many entrepreneurs before him, Cope felt it was time to go to the extreme. For Cope to cope with stress, he would have to place himself in a controlled stressful environment, like jumping out of a Cessna. "I think it improved my ability to think under pressure, and to face my fears," he says. "If you can attempt something that makes your guts scream ‘Don’t do it!’–that can help you take your business to the next level." And isn’t that what all entrepreneurs want?
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