One Bite at a Time

(Standard Operating Procedures)


Today is the last day of the first of your life.
Today is the first day of the rest of your life.
– Anonymous


The wisdom of the wise and the experience of the ages are perpetuated by quotations.
– Benjamin Disraeli


When I was young my father was a US Army officer.  Thankfully, he had strict requirements for respect for elders and authority, personal grooming, decorum, and manners – especially table manners.  Practicing these standards has always served me well. When I became a parent I sought to pass-on the lessons that I found worked.  Yet as a father guiding their development I admit that a time of challenge was instilling proper ‘table manners’.  “Elbows off the table”, “Chew with your mouth closed”, “Only put ‘small bites’ in your mouth” were endless refrains.

Often, perhaps too often, meal times were also times given to dispensing pedantic morsels – ‘Small Bites’ of guidance, insights, or philosophy.  Many from my own experience and inspiration – most from the borrowed and appreciated wisdom of others.  My aim was to provide instructions for establishing personal integrity, personal development, and social responsibility.

Before I was a parent I was a pilot – two seemingly distinct roles.  The lessons I learned from one, in planning prioritizing, focus, responsibility, and courage certainly benefited my appreciation and performance of the other.  Similarly, if I were ever to return to the cockpit I know that my experience as a parent, given all the complexities of communication, guidance, support, education, and decision-making would make me a better pilot and flight crew member.

I am proud of the time I served as an US Air Force pilot.  The skills and risks required of pilots demand great discipline to learn and apply knowledge, judgment, focused attention, courage, and constantly correcting actions.  For me, to ‘make ideas stick’ I make an association with flying.  I relate insights, activities, and destinations with Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and terms.  For the full compilation of Small Bites I categorized quotes and passages under a general heading and often attached a flight term.  Many of the entries carry a message relevant to other categories – so some are repeated.

In promoting ideas related to human relationships and personal growth I did not want to come-off as ‘spacey’.  I wanted to establish some connection with things requiring order and discipline.  Too often personal development guides are dismissed as being ‘fluff’.  As a pilot and businessman I have always worked to sort-out the fluff and focus on core actionable principles.

Pilots must memorize and understand many bits (small bites) of information about physics, weather, aeronautical principles, and technical details and flight characteristics of their aircraft.  To make these small bites relevant they must be integrated into a coherent understandable actionable framework.

The following subjects are divided into chapters with Small Bites of wisdom devoted to each:

LEADERSHIP & MANAGEMENT            (Formation Flying)
WISDOM                                                       (Standard Operating Procedures)
SELF-KNOWLEDGE                                    (Operations Manual)
EDUCATION                                                 (Flight Planning)
GOALS                                                            (Mission)
ATTITUDE                                                     (Mission Driven)
RESPONSIBILITY                                        (Duty)
ACTION                                                          (After-Burners)
COURAGE                                                      (Tailwind)
ADVERSITY                                                   (Turbulence – Emergency Procedures)
SUCCESS                                                        (Mission Accomplished)
FAMILY & FRIENDS                                    (Air Crew)
SERVICE                                                        (Crew Care)
THANKFULNESS                                         (Final Approach)
SPIRIT                                                            (Refueling)


What others are saying about Small Bites


“The wisdom captured here would have definitely assisted me in my negotiations with the devil.”
– Daniel Webster
“To have so much distilled wisdom in one book is like having a never-ending supply of Hershey’s kisses.”
– Milton S. Hershey
“Only a Zombie cannot find inspiration and guidance here.”
– Count Dracula
“I wish that I had Jim’s compilations 2500 years ago. My years of wandering and warring to gain insights and rewards may have been greatly reduced.”
– Xerkses
“Since we are what we eat – chew these bites with care.”
– Jules Gouffé
“These Small Bites are like doses of ‘mega-vitamins’ to nourish you to a healthier life.”
– Jack LaLanne