Business Posts

What You Can Learn from Hot Air Balloons

What You Can Learn from Hot Air Balloons

By Flip Flippen

10 years ago




A few years ago I took my boys Matthew and Micah on our annual guys’ outing: a grueling, six-day, backpacking trip in the mountains of Colorado.

The morning after we arrived in Beaver Creek, we went to the ski area where we would begin our hike. We put on our packs and began to head toward the lift that would take us up to our starting point. As we rounded the corner of a large building at the base of the mountain, the entire plain.

We had no idea we had just walked into the biggest ballooning event in the country. Mesmerized by the scene of balloonists preparing for flight, we watched as hot-air balloons of every color in the rainbow swelled with air and began to fill the sky. Pilots and crews scurried about. Blasts from tiny furnaces punctuated the morning bustle, and inflated balloons strained to lift their passengers to the heavens, held fast as they waited for the ropes to be removed.

One balloon caught my eye. Most people were running away from it because it had become dangerous—the furnace had stopped firing hot air into the balloon before it had fully inflated. Half filled and tethered by a long rope, it was slowly arcing its way in a circle, knocking over everything in its path like an enormous plush bowling ball. A crew member was frantically struggling to untie a rope that wouldn’t budge while the balloon wreaked havoc in slow motion. As we watched from a distance, the balloon continued “butt bumping” along the field, as it pulled and lurched against the restraints. I looked at Matthew and Micah and said, “Boys, I know just what that feels like.”

“What do you mean, Dad?” Matthew asked.

“I know what it’s like—wanting to get off the ground, but tied to something, and trying desperately to break free.” I went on to explain that I could remember various times that unseen “ropes” kept me tied down when I wanted to soar. Despite my mistakes and failures, I knew I was meant for more. Cut me loose and let me go—I WANT TO FLY!

Later, as we watched the balloons rise toward the heavens from a mountaintop where we were sitting, I reflected further on the striking similarities we share with them. I realized that we are all riding in a hot-air balloon. And whether we recognize it or not, we are all in a race. Some of us are still tied to the ground, looking for a way to get loose so we can take flight. Then there are those who are lifting off but not gaining any altitude because they are carrying too much weight. The ropes and weights hold them down as they try to move up and out.

As we begin our ascent, we notice that some balloons are immediately soaring upward, while others are hovering along the surface, barely clearing the ground. Then someone runs up and yells at one of those struggling to get off the ground, “It’s the weights! Throw out the weights!”

After a moment the person in the gondola gets it. It’s the weights that are holding me down! They begin to throw the weights overboard as fast as they can, and sure enough, the balloon begins to rise.

In 2014, we want to focus on YOU: your balloon, your weights, your ropes, the things that hold you down. You can choose to live life as you always have, or you can choose to identify and overcome what has held you back. You can fly—and the air, the scenery, and life itself will be so much more exhilarating as you discover how to overcome the personal constraints that have been holding you down.

Let’s find the weights in your life. . .and throw them overboard. Click here to contact us about helping you and your team today.

Flip Flippen

Whether working with Olympic athletes, professional money managers, or military leaders, Flip Flippen’s mission is the same: “To build relationships and processes that bring out the best in people.” He has applied this goal with hundreds of thousands of individuals, providing executive development and organizational consulting in four sectors: education, corporate, sports, and government. With an emphasis on changing behaviors and attitudes that stand in the way of success, he has helped organizations – from small rural school districts to Fortune 500 companies – achieve dramatic improvement in performance, leadership, trust, and productivity. Flip is the founder and president of the Flippen Group, started in 1990, voted the number two company to work for in Texas by Texas Monthly magazine. Today, the Flippen Group is one of the largest educator training companies and one of the fastest-growing leadership development organizations in North America. Their breakthrough educational processes and curricula are in use at thousands of school districts and campuses nationwide.

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