Monday, January 25, 2010

Change Your Altitude

Special thanks to Maureen at Writing without Paper for this inspiring find.

Bertrand Piccard, along with Brian Jones, was the first to complete a non-stop balloon flight around the globe. He presented some his lessons to a recent meeting of TED (Technology, Entertainment & Design."

"One of the main problems of our society, people learn that the unknown, the doubts, the question marks are dangerous and we have to resist the changes and keep everything under control."

"As long as we fight horizontally against life, against the winds, against what's happening to us, life is a nightmare. If we want to change our trajectory in ballooning or in life, we have to change altitude. How do we change altitude? In the balloon, we have ballast and when we drop the ballast overboard, we climb. In life, it is exactly like this. Pioneers are not the ones with new ideas because ideas are easy to find. No, the pioneer is the one who allows himself to throw overboard a lot of ballast ... habits, certainties, convictions, exclamation marks, paradigms, dogmas. Pioneering spirit allows us to explore the vertical axis ... all the different ways to do, all the different ways to behave, all the different ways to think before we find the one that goes in the direction we wish. This is very practical."

Upon finding a jet stream that would allow his balloon to go faster and save on their precious fuel, Piccard called a weatherman to tell him about the newly found jet stream. The weatherman said that was nice but if he stayed with it, he'd wind up over the North Pole instead of where he wanted to go. The weatherman asked, "Do you want to go very fast in the wrong direction or slowly in a good direction?

When they landed, Piccard promised himself that the next time he flew around the world, he would do it with no fuel and never be held hostage again by the fuel gauges. He urges us to use the pioneering spirit to improve the quality of life and to look at the things that are completely impossible today. He is now applying this spirit to the challenge of flying around the world completely on solar power. You can read more about this project and Piccard at

My favorite quotes from Piccard: "People will tell you it's impossible and that's exactly why we tried to do it." "The most renewable energy we have is our potential and our own passion."

And, the bottomline question: What ballast are we willing to let go of today in order to get to a new altitude?


  1. Ahh, synchronicity. last night, after the hug from the Governor General, my friend Margot van sluytman and I went to a downtown restaurant to have a glass of wine and a chat. We laughed and every so often, we'd stop and celebrate -- tee hee -- we had a hug from the GG. I went to the washroom at one point, and there on the wall, was a painting by one of my favourite painters -- Magritte. And guess which painting it was? Leci n'est pas une pipe.

    how cool is that?

    What ballast am I willing to overthrow? How am I willing to engage my most renewable resource -- my own potential and my own passion?

    good question.

    thanks maureen for this find. thanks Joyce for the thought-provoking questions.