The earth curved away on both sides, beneath the vast blue space. 24 miles below, in the New Mexico desert, his mentor talked him through each step.
Push back your seat. Release the seat-belt. Verify cut-away knife. Disconnect oxygen supply hoses. Attaboy.
And then, Felix Baumgartner fell. A tiny figure, tumbling free through the empty skies, for 4 minutes and 22 seconds. Breaking the sound barrier, and three world records, before activating his parachute to land, on his feet, scuffing up the orange-red earth.
We sometimes feel we’re going nowhere.
Doing the same things, each day. Running, just to keep ourselves upright. We have bills to pay, commitments to keep. Projects for our clients, our boss, promises made to our family or friends.
And then we have our dreams.
We want something new. We want to get fit. We want to see beautiful things. We want to be, simply, not so tired.
Those are the times when the best we hope for are small steps. Tiny signs that we’re making progress.
And yet those periods of small steps are what get us there.
Felix Baumgartner’s team spent years preparing for those 4 minutes of free-fall. Watch the video of the seconds before he leaves the capsule, and you’ll see the care and the detail of those final seconds before he jumps. How meticulous preparation and an unimaginable mental journey come together in the hesitation of releasing a seat belt.
It’s those small steps that got a man 24 miles into the sky in a balloon.
It’s those small steps that got him down again, alive.
It’s ok to take small steps.
It’s ok to feel you’re going nowhere.
Provided you have two other things in place.
Your why, and your what.
The scientific team around Felix Baumgartner didn’t just want to set records. Their primary goal was knowledge. It was to gather data that will increase safety for future space travel.
And they had a very clear goal they needed to achieve. To get a man to leap from the edge of space.
It doesn’t matter how small your steps are today, provided you know where those steps are going.
It doesn’t matter how small your steps are, provided you know why you’re taking them.
Provided you have purpose.
Provided you know where you want to get to.
It can take a while, too, to know those things.
Take a moment for yourself.
If you’re currently stuck in small steps, step back. Right now. Sit tall. Breathe deeply, a few times.
Then ask yourself:
Why am I doing what I’m doing?
What am I working towards?
Observe your answers. How do they make you feel? Reassured, or anxious?
If they make you anxious, maybe it means that something’s not right. And that means that you can start to change things. With small steps.
Because it’s ok to take small steps.
Small steps will get you to the big leaps that change your world.
Just make sure they fit with your why and your what.
Here’s the clip of Felix Baumgartner’s mentor Joe Kittinger taking him through the final moments before he leaves his capsule. Observe their absolute focus, and deliberate, careful actions. Then step out into your own, extraordinary world to do something small and purposeful.