3039_tonemappedpsmsallFor most people, the experience of jumping out of an airplane is enough of a thrill, but not for Anthony Martin who has redefined the term ASAP. The 47-year-old American escape artist and daredevil had himself dropped out of a plane this week while locked inside a casket with his hands cuffed to a belt and his right arm chained to the inside of the box! In order to survive, he needed to pick the locks and escape the falling coffin with enough time to get clear and open his parachute, and that is exactly what he managed to do.

Well, my skydive experience wasn’t quite so time sensitive but my stomach sure made me feel that way for a while.  As our turn to vacate the plane approached my guide shared with me the last second pre-jump rundown, “Ok, we are buckled together, tight, secure, and you aren’t going to go anywhere that I don’t go.  We are going to scoot forward, approach the door, bend forward and tumble to our left out of the doorway.  Are you ready?”  “Yes, more than ready,” I replied.  “Good, we are going to do some fun stuff.  For the first 10,000 feet we are going to freefall at speeds between 100 and 130 miles per hour for a little less than 60 seconds.  Be loose, I’m going to guide your arms and we are going to do some great tricks.  Then at about 5,000 feet I am going to open the ‘chute and we will have a blast doing various maneuvers the next 5 or 10 minutes of the way down.”

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Great, I thought, this is going to be awesome.  My sister-in-law Bobbie approached the door and without hesitation launched out the opening.  Wow, nothing to it I guess.  Olivia, Chris, and Max all effortlessly made the plunge and all are ready to do it again.  For me the first 10,000 feet of free fall was everything that I expected.  It was simply awesome.  But then the ‘chute opened and I realized that I never considered that I get motion sickness on rides that go left, right, up, and down …. And we went left, right, up, and down as I turned green.  “You’ve gotten awful quiet,” the guide shouted.  I said, “Do you think?  My stomach is doing flips.”  “Thought so – focus on the horizon,” he replied.  Whatever, I thought, as the horizon went from left to right and right to left.  “We will be down ASAP” the guide assured.

There’s that phrase – I don’t think that there are many responses other than maybe ‘whatever’ that I dislike as much as ASAP.  ASAP means absolutely nothing concrete.  I know what I wanted it to mean on this last 2,500 feet down as I continued to change various shades of green.  It meant like right now but I would have been satisfied with 60 seconds.

Three people told me this week that they were going to do something ASAP and I thought of my skydiving experience but let it go the first time.  I thought the person must mean by that afternoon but quitting time rolled around and I never received anything so I called and asked for the information.  “Oh, I’m not going to get to that for at least another day,” was the response.

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Lesson learned.

So, two days later another person emailed me and stated they will do something ASAP.  I e-mailed back and said ASAP doesn’t work – please tell me when I will receive it.

3265_tonemappedbpssmallThat’s the problem with ASAP – the definition is so broad and so unique to the person offering it up that it means absolutely nothing to the recipient unless you know that person well enough to have a gauge.  It’s completely wishy-washy and not what will separate you, your company, and ultimately your service to others from the masses that seem to gravitate to the phrase.  The majority seem to use ASAP to buy some time and avoid making a commitment to anything specific.

“At the very heart of our circle of influence is our ability to make and keep firm commitments and promises.  The commitments we make to ourselves and to others, and our integrity to those commitments, is the essence of our proactivity.”

 – Stephen R. Covey

Isn’t it much more impressive to simply tell others when you will deliver the goods and follow through and get it done – and in the few instances when it doesn’t come together to simply communicate that you need a specific amount of additional time?  You probably wouldn’t be surprised at how much people love to be communicated with as we all feel let down by the lack of it more frequently than we would like.  It seems when someone actually does deliver the service and communication that we value that we are stunned and it stands head and shoulders above the typical service that we get.  Good service doesn’t always mean super-fast service.  It just means delivering on the commitment of a well thought out timeframe that will allow you to do it right for as Howard W. Newton offers, “People forget how fast you did the job – but they remember how well you did it.”  Part of doing it well is making sure that we follow through and deliver when we say we will and communicate well throughout the process.

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Get your feet back on solid ground and ditch the ASAP.  Replace it with a timeline that provides clarity and commitment to your clients, co-workers, family, and friends and let them know they are valued.

And as far as the skydiving goes – yes, I would recommend it to everyone – there really isn’t anything like it.  I would only suggest that you communicate with your guide prior to the jump if you know you get motion sickness so they will smooth out the ride down – lol.  The web address is www.skydivenewengland.com.

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