Felix Baumgartner’s epic spacejump this week created not just a global sensation and the most watched clip on the Internet, it had many of us struck in awe. How does someone take such a seemingly impossible dream and turn it into a reality? Or perhaps more importantly, takes so many risks and turn them into an opportunity?

Ok, it turns out this was nothing new for Felix. The Austrian daredevil currently holds world records for BASE jumping and skydiving, including a skydive across the English Channel, using carbon-fibre wings no less. I guess a jump from space was a natural progression! But regardless it still entailed two and a half years of preparation, a major sponsor and oodles of scientists working alongside him.

So thinking about risk and opportunity, how do you get others to help you reach the impossible? As T.S. Eliot said “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go”. This is true in business too. While you aren’t necessarily putting your body and life on the line, doing things differently can bring risk to reputation. But sometimes not taking a risk impacts on the future of your business.

Flops are common, in fact more than we probably realise. The Beatles were rejected by a record label that stated “we don’t like their sound, they have no future in the business”, Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper for “lacking imagination”, and Albert Einstein’s teachers declared he’d “never amount to much”. So let’s turn it around. Let’s look at it from a flopportunity perspective. Flopportunities can be seen as perceived failures used as a springboard for employing creativity and turning it into a successful endeavour.

We are competitive by nature. There is something inspiring about those who push boundaries. Where would we be without innovators? Baumgartner couldn’t have made his spacejump if it hadn’t been for Frenchman Jacques Garnerin experimenting with the world’s first parachute jump in 1797. Garnerin graduated from sending animals out as test jumpers to eventually jumping himself from a hot air balloon at 3,200 feet.

We need to ask ourselves to think differently – “What would MacGyver do?”. Problem solving can always be done using the resources on hand. Thinking and doing things differently makes an impact; people yearn for engaging concepts. If we embrace and celebrate those who are pushing boundaries in our own industries we begin to recognise that different can turn into something big. Yes Baumgartner was in the jumping industry but the stratosphere was an unchartered territory. There will always be new frontiers. It’s the pioneers that break the barriers for all of us. They show us what can be achieved with discipline, the right people around you, taking a risk, and making the most of an opportunity.

Your current boundaries were potentially once unknown frontiers. Have they become safe comfort zones? Perhaps it’s time to push at the edges and do things differently.

What Baumgartner did this week was truly amazing. For those of you who missed it here’s a small tribute.

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