Every now and again someone does something so breathtakingly spectacular that it will be remembered as long as people tell stories to each other. In my world these moments are known as elevens.
Let me explain, if you take a picture of a black wall that would illicit a score of one. Take a picture of a white wall with someone stood in front of it then that arguably would be a two and so on. To get to an eleven it has to be an earth changing moment, for example the assassination of J F Kennedy, First man on the Moon, even 911.
So what happened today that changed the world. A young Skydiver named Felix Baumgartner completed a challenge that took him and his team five years to complete which was so breathtaking in its vision and complexity that it led me to sit spell bound looking at a small youtube screen for the best part of three hours.
The last time my generation saw anything this extraordinary was back in the early seventies watching Niel Armstrong step onto the Moon for the first time, watching on a grainy black and white TV stuck in the corner of the lounge with all the neighbors watching intently, I can’t believe that was more than Forty years ago.
Most of us would I am sure surrounded by the people who we try to impress do things we would not normally do, just look at any small airfield on any given weekend to see various everyday people jumping out of planes for some worthy cause or another.
This guy although surrounded by the very best engineers and designers who created the balloon, the suit and the procedures that would ensure success trusted them enough to put his life on the line.
Watching the progress on my computer what I didn’t expect was the time it took to get to the altitude for the jump and the fact that this guy was sat on his own for two or more hours in a tiny capsule checking his equipment and rehearsing his exit. What type of bravery does it take to do that, far more than I have.
To take that gigantic leap of faith this guy must have the biggest balls on earth, as he stepped out and started his decent my heart skipped more that a beat or two.
Was it the awful silence when at 833 mph he was tumbling head over heals through the atmosphere, or was it the fact that it seemed a very long time before his parachute opened or was it just the fear of the unknown.
Live TV does that, it makes you wonder what the outcome will be, and you brain tries to compute the odds of success whilst its happening, this is what makes it gripping to watch, It was without doubt the longest five minutes of my life. Programmes like the X Factor talk about pressure and suspense, they don’t know the meaning of the word.
This mans photograph should be posted on every classroom wall in the country and we should tell our young people every day that anything is possible with hard work, teamwork and being brave enough to overcome fear so we can achieve great things.
Someone said to me once that if you wish to be famous make sure its for something you can be proud of, today this brave individual will go down in history as someone who did something unbelievable, something that will be remembered for years to come and for me it was a definitely eleven moment.