Do you know who’s packing your parachute?

While sitting in a restaurant in Kansas City, Missouri, Charlie Plumb recalls, a man several tables away kept looking at him. “I didn’t recognize him,” Plumb said. But a few minutes later, the man stood up, walked over to his table, pointed his finger in Plumb’s face and said, “You’re Captain Plumb.”

“Yes sir,” Plumb said,” I’m Captain Plumb.”

The man certainly knew who Plumb was, for he proceeded to tell him about Plumb’s own war history – flying jet fighters in Vietnam and being shot down; parachuting into enemy hands and spending six years as a prisoner of war.

Plumb asked, “How in the world did you know all that?”

The man replied, “Because, I packed your parachute.”

Wow! The experience of meeting the person who packed his parachute and ultimately saved his life, along with his prisoner of war survival, helped define Plumb’s professional speaking career messages today.

Plumb graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and went on to fly F-4 Phantom jet fighters on 74 successful missions. On his 75th mission, with only five days left before the end of his tour of duty, he was shot down, captured, tortured and imprisoned in an 8-by-8-foot cell.

He spent the next 2,103 days as a prisoner of war in communist prison camps. During his nearly six years of captivity, Plumb distinguished himself among his fellow prisoners as a pro in underground communications. He served for two of those six years as the chaplain in his prisoner of war camp.

But Plumb’s challenges did not end after six year of prison. When he was finally released, he returned home to learn his wife had divorced him three months earlier and was now engaged to marry another man.

He could have chosen to get mad, get even or sue. Instead, Plumb chose to get ahead. He went on to start a business and speak professionally. He has been inducted into the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame. He married again and has a wonderful wife and they have two children.

Plumb now travels the world telling his inspirational story (having spoken to more than 5,000 audiences), sharing how to win through adversity.

He asks all of us to think about: Who are the special people in our lives who provide the encouragement when the chips are down and we’re ready to give up? It’s time right now to give those people a call and thank them for helping us and packing our parachute.

Here are seven additional wisdom tips Plumb shared:

• Adversity is a horrible thing to waste. It is through the adversity that we can grow our success muscle. It is in our setbacks that we can often find the puzzle piece to our future success.

• The toughest part of being a prisoner of war was not the physical torture, but the doubt and fear. You must be willing to look for and find hope, even in seemingly hopeless situations.

• Whether you think you are a winner or think you are a loser … either way you are right.

• You need faith to help you through those moments when hope is hard to find.

• There are times we need ask God not to move the mountain, but for the strength to climb it.

• Pray that every challenge has value. If you can find the value, you can find a way to make the pain worth going through.

• Get rid of a “deserve” mindset. Develop an achievement mindset. We get what we work for, what we fight for and what we make happen.

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Willie Jolley is America’s number one inspirational/motivational speaker/singer/author!


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