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Inspirational Teamwork Story – Something to think about…

Who packs your parachute – inspirational teamwork story

Enjoy This Inspirational Teamwork Story

In the daily grind of life we sometimes fail in being grateful and recognizing all of the good that is done on our behalf. Here is an inspirational teamwork story I heard the other day that demonstrates that there are many working on a team that we often times fail to recognize for their good  work.

This teamwork story is about a US Naval Academy graduate and jet fighter pilot in Vietnam by the name of Charles Plumb. He had completed 75 combat missions when he was shot down. Plumb was ejected and parachuted into enemy hands afterwards spending six years in a Vietnamese prison. Fortunately he survived and today lectures on the many lessons he learned.

One day while eating at a restaurant with his wife a man came up and said, “Your Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!”

“How in the world did you know that?” asked Plumb. “I packed your parachute,” the man replied. Charles Plumb in surprise and gratitude had to catch his breath.

The man then shook his hand and said, “I guess it worked!” Plumb assured him it had and said, “if your chute hadn’t worked, I wouldn’t be here today.”

That night Plumb could not sleep. He said, “I kept pondering what he might have looked like in a Navy uniform – a Dixie cup hat, a bib in the back, and bell bottom trousers. I wonder how many times I might have seen him and not even said good morning, how are you or anything because, you see, I was a fighter pilot and he was just a sailor.”

Plumb thought a lot about that man who had packed his parachute and the hours he spent at a wooden table at the bottom of the ship carefully packing his and others chutes. He held in his hands the chute; the fate of someone he did not even know.

Charles Plumb is now a motivational speaker telling this story to hundreds. He always ask his audiences after telling it, “Who’s packing your parachute?”

In our life many people have a hand in our parachutes. Are we taking the time to acknowledge them, thank them, reward them? It is very easy to overlook the work of many. When an athletic team has won a championship do you ever hear them thank the trainer, the cook, the bus driver? Do they take the time to reward them too? It takes a lot of people to create a championship team.

Who on your team works on your parachute? We would love to hear what you think, please comment below.

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Here is a link to Captain J. Charles Plumb’s Web site if you would like to schedule him as a speaker or purchase one of his products.

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{ 17 comments… add one }

  • Dr. Patricia H. Marino, Ph.d. May 4, 2012, 4:57 am

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! How powerfully inspirational! Who’s packing your parachute?

  • Mike Rogers May 7, 2012, 6:28 pm

    Your welcome Dr. Marino. It’s a nice story isn’t it?

  • Mike Rogers May 15, 2012, 3:09 pm

    True Bradley, but if they get a little appreciation it does make a difference : ) Thanks for your comments!

  • Mike Rogers May 15, 2012, 3:12 pm

    I am glad the post could make you smile Alison : ) It is a great story and humbling. There is so much others do for us. The least we can do is recognize that.

  • Bradley Ann Morgan May 15, 2012, 3:08 pm

    Mike–couldnt agree with you more about being ‘of service’ as in the military story. From my work, have found that the best team members are those that know their work matters; and, can make a difference in life even if they don’t experience the return or are thanked personally.

  • Alison Clifton May 15, 2012, 3:10 pm

    This appearing in my inbox this morning made me smile as while I was waiting for my emails to load I was reading one of the items on the wall of my office…. I opened this post and there it was the very same story I have posted on the wall next to my desk… It helps me to remember that not only are others packing my parachute, but I also pack the parachute of others… Humbling thought really.

  • sanjay May 24, 2012, 5:20 am

    Great thought…as every small things in our life matters.

  • Mike Rogers May 25, 2012, 9:11 pm

    Very true Sanjay!

  • Pratibha Sangwan May 31, 2012, 7:01 am

    Thanks Mike for sharing such a wonderful story. Appreciation is all that makes the difference and takes least of our efforts. We should pay gratitude to everyone who has made sure we are here today!!.. Thanks for bringing smile of my face..

  • Mike Rogers June 9, 2012, 11:17 am

    Your welcome Pratibha! I am glad you liked it. It is important to remember who is packing our parachute.

  • Sheryl Butler October 22, 2012, 9:30 am

    Just read this to my team. Brought tears to their eyes. Then I thanked them for all they do. Great inspiration. Thank you.

  • Mike Rogers October 28, 2012, 1:16 pm

    Sheryl, I am glad you liked it and that you found it practical as well : )

  • Teresa July 9, 2013, 1:05 am

    Wow – really does give you something to think about. We have a very small team with staff operating at different levels. I will certainly share this with them because they don’t always recognise the less important but necessary tasks other staff members do to assist them. This is a great story thanks.

    • Michael Rogers July 17, 2013, 9:29 pm

      Glad you liked it Teresa. It is a great story to share with teams. We need to appreciate the things people do for that we might not even be aware of yet or thought about.


  • Arundhaty August 2, 2013, 12:31 pm

    Makes a lot of sense

  • Claire of Effective Leadership Styles August 27, 2013, 8:29 am

    Thank you Mike for this reminder. Sometimes leaders tend to forget that behind their success are the works of many hands fulfilling their individual roles in the organization. Recognition as simple as a pat on the back, or giving a “job well done” remark or simply saying thank you is enough to let the team members know that their work is appreciated. Time to pause and be grateful to all the persons who have packed your parachute.

  • R. Mark Macy August 6, 2014, 6:43 am

    Excellent Mike! Sometimes all of us need a nudge to reflect and this is just the ticket! Appreciate all you do!

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