Blogpost

You’re a Plane, Not a Helicopter!

takeoffI have a friend who has pretty strong anxiety about flying.  It’s actually not so much the flying but specifically the taking off and the landing.  Proximity to the ground is the cause for most of the anxiety because hitting it in some unwanted fashion would be a real bummer.  I’m not sure how she would deal with riding in a helicopter.  With the liftoff being so instantaneous when compared with a plane, I’m not sure if it would be easier or harder to deal with.  I’ve never been in a helicopter but my guess is that the sensation of it is very different.  Since I’ve never been in a helicopter, I just assume that most people haven’t been either.

Despite that fact it seems as though people have a generalized desire for the Helicopter experience in their lives and work.  The overwhelming feeling that I get (and sometimes have) is that success should require effort for sure but then you just lift off from there.  While I recognize this is irrational, it does not stop people from wanting it.  The lottery winner type story seems almost ingrained in our consciousness to the point that it overrides our rational brain.  So it is time to embrace the fact that we need a runway.  As humans, we’re generally not going to reach the heights of our potential in a “straight up” way.

As you go out into the world to make big things happen, realize that you need to build a runway.  Reaching the highest heights is difficult when you’re running into trees, rocks and walls.  You need to clear a path for yourself to take off.  This may take a finding a new location or lots of elbow grease.  Regardless, building a good runway is better for the process of your takeoff rather than expecting your plane to be a helicopter.  The world tends to work in specific ways, so lay the groundwork and eventually you’ll be “ready for takeoff”.

Enjoy your flight!

Pete

self-reliance

The Boy Who Cried Wolf (Revisited)

BoywhocriedwolfCautionary tales like “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” seem to be less prevalent than in the past.  Perhaps that is just my perception or my own implementation of life lessons to my kids.  I remember exactly who told me this story and for what reason.  It had the desired effect.  In third grade, I would frequently “not feel well” in order to be sent down to the nurse’s office.  Once my visits became frequent enough, the nurse recounted the story of the boy who cried wolf.  My visits to her office became more legitimate.

Although the moral of the story is extremely clear, it might be worth a revisit because it could go further.  In the end, the boy gets hurt because the townspeople don’t believe him.  His dishonesty lead  to pain because it short-circuited the system that was intended to protect him.  While this moral has served me and countless others well, let’s go further.

The boy not only put himself in peril, he also robbed himself.  He robbed himself of the experience of watching how the townspeople dealt with wolves.  His deception was a short term diversion that took away his long term solution.  If he had been diligent in his duties, he may have seen that scaring off the wolves was something that he could eventually do on his own.  Developing this skill set over time could have saved his life in the future.

This revisited moral is possibly even more useful than the original now.  The world is full of alarms, warning devices and security systems that keep us safe from “wolf attacks”.  However with all of this “protection” are we going to be ready to act when things go sideways.  If we are always providing our young people with a “safe space”, will they know how to handle themselves when real dangers show up?  Hope is not a strategy.  Hoping that the systems in place will be enough to cover all eventualities actually leaves those on the inside helpless.  So don’t hope that nothing will happen, take steps to prepare for those possibilities.

Systems can be great and it is completely fine that we depend on them, until it’s not.  Following the credo of the Boy Scouts, “be prepared!”  You don’t know what is coming in your future but if you never consider what’s possible in either the positive or the negative, then you’re bound to be unprepared.    We’ve all got exactly one objective in life: FCO (Figure Crap Out!).  That’s it!  You don’t deserve a problem free life.  You can only create one.  Not by eradicating all problems but by preparing for so many eventualities that you’re never caught by surprise!

Get ready people!

Pete

Uncategorized

Picnic Baskets and Swiss Army Knives

SwissArmyKnifeEvery year I hike part of the Appalachian Trail with my brother.  It is one of my favorite events of the year.  First, it is time spent with one of my best friends.  Second, it is enjoyable to forget about comfort for two days and walk into the woods with only the supplies we can carry.  It’s not army survival training by any stretch but it’s not a picnic either.  We never bring a picnic basket but we always bring a Swiss Army Knife.  The tools that you pack on any adventure say a lot about what you are expecting, what you can handle and whether or not you’ll survive.

picnicbasketOne of my greatest concerns is the youth of today are under-prepared to deal with the challenges they will face.  I fear that in many respects kids today are walking into the woods with picnic baskets.  They are anticipating that everything will continue to be easy.  The tests of life will be multiple choice.  If they need it, they’ll get extra time to complete their work.  Mommy or daddy will always be available to fix their problems.  Unfortunately this picnic basket life that they are anticipating doesn’t exist.  What happens when they find out that life is not always a picnic?

My hope is that we never get to that point.  I want the young people that I have contact with to leave the basket at home and take the Swiss Army Knife.  Start equipping themselves with any and every tool that they can to survive effectively in the woods of life.

The reason that I use the Swiss Army Knife in this metaphor is its adaptability to many situations.  The world is changing at an increasingly rapid pace.  Yet many young people seem to have trouble keeping up with the status quo.  The expectation that tomorrow will be like yesterday is foolish. It will leave us at least two steps behind where we need to be.

Whether you realize it or not, you’re in the woods. Did you pack well?  If not, maybe now you should look around for supplies.