Aug 15, 2015 - Musings    No Comments

Stand for What is Right!

In the last few years I imagined a novel with a revisionist history wherein Al Gore had been elected President instead of GW in 2000. What might be different? Who knows? Maybe still a 9/11 attack and Afghan invasion. Maybe not.

Certainly no Iraq invasion. No ‘Citizens United’ political corruption. I suspect Wall Street would have been reined in more effectively or at least held accountable and that the Assault Weapons ban would have not been repealed. America’s positive responses to global warming challenges would now be leading the planet to possible solutions.

I learned today that some influential people are urging Gore to run again for President in 2016. We need wizened leadership – and I do not now see it in any of the announced candidates.Courage 10

Jan 4, 2015 - Musings    1 Comment

My Barrel Roll Theory of Self-Mastery

TalonBlind, semi-conscious, experiencing extreme weight pressure, I was upside down hurtling toward earth at over 500 mph.

This was not my plan.

I was flying a USAF T-38 Talon, supersonic jet trainer – solo. What started as a routine training flight over mountains in southern Arizona, in the last month of year-long pilot training, had turned into a life challenging and changing event.

The plan had been to practice aerobatic maneuvers at altitudes between 25,000 and 10,000 feet to exercise control and confidence over all aspects of flight. One of the maneuvers to practice was a ‘Barrel Roll’. The maneuver is deceptively complex, involving continuous rotation around all three axes from start to finish. Successful demonstration requires thorough mastery of basic rolling and looping skills.

Proper execution of the maneuver required strict control of airspeed, aircraft attitude, direction, angle of attack, and roll-rate. In the last half of a Barrel Roll with the aircraft inverted, if the pilot did not keep the proper roll-rate and applied too much backpressure on ‘the stick’ a dangerous condition could result. With too much backpressure the aircraft would be upside down, headed to the ground, gaining excessive speed, and losing altitude rapidly. Sound familiar?

The proper recovery is to quickly rollout of the inverted attitude, regain level flight, and full aircraft control.

This should have been my plan.

Instead I had miss-controlled roll and back stick pressure trying to ‘pull through’ the turn and ended up in a ‘Split S’ maneuver. The increasing G-forces were causing the blood to drain from my brain resulting in ‘tunnel-vision’ to ‘grey-out’ to blindness.

I pulled out of the inverted dive at less than 800 feet AGL (Above Ground Level). My G-suit was fully inflated and my vision slowly returned. The G-meter was pegged at over seven G’s (7 X force of Gravity).

I was alive, had busted the safe altitude restrictions, stressed the aircraft, and had some decisions to make. Option A: I could regain a safe altitude and recover to Base, not disclose my loss of control, be thankful for surviving, and live to fly another day.

Or – Option B: I could do a ‘Reset’ – position my aircraft again at a safe 15,000 ft. and attempt another Barrel Roll.

I chose Option B. I do not profess bravery. It was clear to me that to be a competent and confident pilot I must immediately master fear and self-doubt. I did so with a forced confidence. This was not foolish courage as in earlier flights I had successfully completed the maneuver when flying with an instructor.

Mentally I knew the physical techniques to control my aircraft for proper execution. The required task at hand was to translate knowledge into action by physically and precisely controlling the airspeed, attitude, stick pressure, and roll-rate.

I willed ever-greater confidence and courage, reset my aircraft, and completed a near-perfect Barrel Roll.

As I headed back to Base I knew that I had decided and done something personally important. Trusting myself was a huge gift and I would ’cash-in’ on this trust throughout my life.

What were My Lessons Learned?:

  1. Be prepared with procedural knowledge for effective recovery actions to potential problems whether operating or leading a personal or group physical task, project, or organization.
  2. Learn to recognize and take corrective action at the first signs of a developing ‘out-of-control’ situation.
  3. Focused Will (FW), embraced Self-Confidence (SC), and Decisive Action (DA) are the inner resources which call forth the deeper part of me that supports and sustains me offering opportunities for greatest success.
  4. When I feel fear and self-doubt they are indicators that I need to ‘Reset’.
  5. FW, SC, & DA are also the lances to puncture debilitating fear, self-doubt, and sense of hopelessness.
  6. I must not wait for fear or self-doubt to be dispelled. I will use FW to pretend to be SC and proceed to take DA.
  7. Creation, inflation, and implementation of FW, SC, & DA are a matter of choice – and it is one that is always available.

Challenge:

Recall a time when you summoned Will and Confidence, did a ‘Reset’, and took Action in spite of fear and self-doubt.

How can you energize this memory to establish a Reset Button to be ever ready to activate your FW, SC & DA when needed?

Our Reset Button is not to be reserved for only severe life challenges. It should be activated whenever fear or self-doubt are felt. This includes all fears:

–       Fear of Failure

–       Fear of Embarrassment

–       Fear of Inadequacy

–       Fear of Disappointing Self or Others

–       Fear of Success

Like muscles or any practiced skill our Reset Button response gets stronger and more effective the more we use it.

Opportunity:

What current or near-term challenges can be handled more effectively by hitting ‘Reset’ and ‘acting-as-if’ now?

***

“Leaders keep their eye on the doughnut and not the hole. They remind themselves it’s better to be in the arena, than to be up in the stands, or out in the parking lot.”

– Steven Pressfield; The War of Art

Dear Friend – If you enjoyed this story I invite you to read all my Personal Stories of Leadership at

http://amzn.to/1Bvv9wz

 

Sep 21, 2014 - Musings    No Comments

“The Power of Surrender”

Pains and UnderstandingsInsights from my good friend, Dr. Jeff Alexander

August 27, 2014

Surrender is the most important thing you can do to bring about growth and positive change in your life. Surrender does not mean to be passive or defeated in the face of challenges.  It does not mean to give up or cease taking action when needed. When one becomes aware that life is designed for soul evolution and growth, then every unpredictable event becomes a step towards self-realization.

True surrender is accepting not opposing life experiences.  The joy of life is fully experienced only in the present moment. By accepting the present moment and whatever lies within it, you move in harmony and flow with life. Resistance to the present experience fights with life. It is within this resistance to life experiences that suffering arises. This often occurs when negative experiences appear. You “don’t want” the feeling that comes from that experience. So the battle with the present moment becomes your reality.

The mind decides it does not like the present moment and wants the feeling associated with it to leave. This non-acceptance of what is present causes tremendous discomfort and drains energy from the body. The battle begins and the heart reacts by stimulating an anxiety emotion felt deep in the body. The heart is reacting not to the event, but to the mind’s programmed reaction to the event. The mind often misinterprets this communication from the heart and gets to work attempting to fix it by trying to manipulate the outside condition. It can’t recognize the fact that it is the reason for the pain.

The mind likes to think of itself as your personal lifeguard pulling you out of turbulent waters. It can’t recognize the fact that it is the culprit always throwing you in. Life will come at you and by now you know that things can go wrong.  Surrender is key to accepting this fact and relinquishing the pain of suffering from your life.

Resistance is generated from the mind, and blocks your experience of the present moment. It robs the soul from growing. Soul grows often more from negative experiences than positive ones.  The mind says, “I know what is good for you and will not allow this learning to come forth.” So, it persists. The message of the experience never gets embraced by the soul and will continue to arise in different forms, events and conditions of life.  Until you surrender to the experience by not judging or resisting it, you will stay on the wheel of pain and discomfort.

By surrendering you give up judgment as either good or bad and are able to immediately, without the distraction of mind, take the necessary focused action to change the condition.  You are not diluted by the ego screaming in your ear and are more able to enter a more powerful state of intention and action.  You no longer waste energy on worry or guilt, but get immediately to work attending what needs your attention without the resistance.

Life will offer you the best classroom to practice the art of surrender.  And you will have many lessons to strengthen your spiritual endurance.

Sep 13, 2014 - Musings    No Comments

Giving ‘Thanks’

Sign from the Universe  It happened every Friday evening, almost without fail, when the sun resembled a giant orange and was starting to dip into the blue ocean. Old Ed came strolling along the beach to his favorite pier. Clutched in his bony hand was a bucket of shrimp.

Ed walks out to the end of the pier, where it seems he almost has the world to himself. The glow of the sun is a golden bronze now. Everybody’s gone, except for a few joggers on the beach. Standing out on the end of the pier, Ed is alone with his thoughts…and his bucket of shrimp.

Before long, however, he is no longer alone. Up in the sky a thousand white dots come screeching and squawking, winging their way toward that lanky frame standing there on the end of the pier. Before long, dozens of seagulls have enveloped him, their wings fluttering and flapping wildly. Ed stands there tossing shrimp to the hungry birds. As he does, if you listen closely, you can hear him say with a smile, “Thank you. Thank you.”

In a few short minutes the bucket is empty. But Ed doesn’t leave. He stands there lost in thought, as though transported to another time and place. Invariably, one of the gulls lands on his sea-bleached, weather-beaten hat – an old military hat he’s been wearing for years.

When he finally turns around and begins to walk back toward the beach, a few of the birds hop along the pier with him until he gets to the stairs, and then they, too, fly away. And old Ed quietly makes his way down to the end of the beach and on home.

If you were sitting there on the pier with your fishing line in the water, Ed might seem like “a funny old duck,” as my dad used to say. Or, “a guy that’s a sandwich shy of a picnic,” as my kids might say. To onlookers, he’s just another old codger, lost in his own weird world, feeding the seagulls with a bucket full of shrimp.

To the onlooker, rituals can look either very strange or very empty. They can seem altogether unimportant …maybe even a lot of nonsense. Old folks often do strange things, at least in the eyes of Boomers and Busters. Most of them would probably write Old Ed off, down there in F lorida . That’s too bad. They’d do well to know him better.

His full name: Eddie Rickenbacker. He was a famous hero back in World War II. On one of his flying missions across the Pacific, he and his seven-member crew went down. Miraculously, all of the men survived, crawled out of their plane, and climbed into a life raft. Captain Rickenbacker and his crew floated for days on the rough waters of the Pacific. They fought the sun. They fought sharks. Most of all, they fought hunger.

By the eighth day their rations ran out. No food. No water They were hundreds of miles from land and no one knew where they were. They needed a miracle. That afternoon they had a simple devotional service and prayed for a miracle. They tried to nap. Eddie leaned back and pulled his military cap over his nose. Time dragged. A ll he could hear was the slap of the waves against the raft.

Suddenly, Eddie felt something land on the top of his cap. It was a seagull! Old Ed would later describe how he sat perfectly still, planning his next move. With a flash of his hand and a squawk from the gull, he managed to grab it and wring its neck. He tore the feathers off, and he and his starving crew made a meal – a very slight meal for eight men – of it. Then they used the intestines for bait. With it, they caught fish, which gave them food and more bait……and the cycle continued.

With that simple survival technique, they were able to endure the rigors of the sea until they were found and rescued. (after 24 days at sea…)

Eddie Rickenbacker lived many years beyond that ordeal, but he never forgot the sacrifice of that first lifesaving seagull. And he never stopped saying, “Thank you.” That’s why almost every Friday night he would walk to the end of the pier with a bucket full of shrimp and a heart full of gratitude.

PS: Eddie was also an Ace in WW I and started Eastern Airlines

Jun 12, 2014 - Musings    No Comments

The Cab Ride He’ll Never Forget

Kindness 3It will take just 60 seconds to read this and change your thinking..

By Kent Nerburn

There was a time in my life twenty years ago when I was driving a cab for a living. It was a cowboy’s life, a gambler’s life, a life for someone who wanted no boss, constant movement and the thrill of a dice roll every time a new passenger got into the cab.

What I didn’t count on when I took the job was that it was also a ministry. Because I drove the night shift, my cab became a rolling confessional. Passengers would climb in, sit behind me in total anonymity and tell me of their lives.

We were like strangers on a train, the passengers and I, hurtling through the night, revealing intimacies we would never have dreamed of sharing during the brighter light of day. I encountered people whose lives amazed me, ennobled me, made me laugh and made me weep. And none of those lives touched me more than that of a woman I picked up late on a warm August night.

I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I honked again. Since this was going to be my last ride of my shift I thought about just driving away, but instead I put the car in park and walked up to the door and knocked. ‘Just a minute’, answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.

After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90′s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940′s movie.

By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets.

There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

‘Would you carry my bag out to the car?’ she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.

She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.

She kept thanking me for my kindness. ‘It’s nothing’, I told her.. ‘I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.’

‘Oh, you’re such a good boy, she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, ‘Could you drive through downtown?

‘It’s not the shortest way,’ I answered quickly..

‘Oh, I don’t mind,’ she said. ‘I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.

I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. ‘I don’t have any family left,’ she continued in a soft voice..’The doctor says I don’t have very long.’ I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.

‘What route would you like me to take?’ I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.

We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.

Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, ‘I’m tired. Let’s go now’.

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.

Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her.

I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

‘How much do I owe you?’ She asked, reaching into her purse.

‘Nothing,’ I said

‘You have to make a living,’ she answered.

‘There are other passengers,’ I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

‘You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,’ she said. ‘Thank you.’

I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light.. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life..

I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?

On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life.

We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.

But great moments often catch us unaware – beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

Love Giving Away