On his 76th mission, naval jet pilot Charles Plumb was shot down over enemy territory. Although he survived, he spent six years as a prisoner of war during which he learned many lessons about bravery and leadership.
Today, Plumb lectures to others about these experiences.
But the experience most moving occurred after he returned home. A man approached Plumb as he dined in a restaurant prior to a speaking engagement.
“Are you the famous naval pilot Charles Plumb?” the man asked.
“Why yes I am,” replied Plumb. “How do you know me?”
“I packed your parachute,” the man replied.
Plumb was immediately overcome. He realized it was because of this man that that the stories of bravery and leadership were possible. Without his expertise in packing the parachute, Plumb would have perished in the crash.
From that day forward Plumb would challenge his audience with the simple question, “Who packs your parachutes?” He causes people to reflect on those that are behind the scenes, working without recognition to make an organization successful. Plumb confesses he never thought about the person that packed his parachute until that night in the restaurant. He nor any of the other pilots ever spoke to the sailors that packed their parachutes. Yet it is precisely because of people like the packer that others can survive.
Life Lesson: You are never too important to shake hands and thanks the people that make you successful.