When I was accepted in the the Federal Aviation’s Administration’s Air Traffic Academy in 1976, I knew I was on the right path. At the same time, I had no idea what I had signed up for. It was daunting in every way. I remember, after having passed the first phase of academics, which was challenging in itself, my class of 16 was now headed to the dreaded non-radar labs. “Phase III” of a thirteen phase program known to be a phase in which “50% will not make it”. I don’t mind saying it, I was nervous, partially because I was not aware of the process.
On the first day of labs, the Air Traffic Academy Superintendent passed by our class, first to congratulate us for passing Phase II and then to encourage us as we entered Phase III. However, the superintendent said something that gave me courage. It was something like: “You have been tested and accepted into this program, so we know you have the aptitude to do this job. All you have to do is apply yourself”. I thought, “I can do that”. There is hope. I trusted what the superintendent said. I trusted in the process behind all the uncertainty.
The Process – My Friend
At that moment, I knew I would not be distracted, party instead of study, or otherwise drop the ball. I had been told I had it within me to succeed and I determined to give this opportunity my full attention. Still, it was not easy and there were obstecles. For instance, we were not allowed to miss any days or be late for any reason. Not even illness. It was winter in Oklahoma, I was not eating right, nor sleeping well and there was just a bit of stress (sarcasm). Yes, I managed to get the flu.
Showing Up and Staying the Course
I still have an audio recording of a graded problem I took while hosting a fever of 102 degrees. I did not pass. Even thought managing to score thirteen conflictions* (you were not allowed any to pass a graded problem), I was there and I finished. Fortunately you were allowed one failed graded problem and still pass the course. It was also a Friday, so I had the weekend to get over the creeping crud. Ultimately, I graduated. I trusted the process and it worked.
There were many more challenges and not a few moments in which I really wanted to walk away. Even after I became a journeyman controller, there were moments, even days when I wanted to disappear. Invariably, there would be someone or something that would remind me to trust the process and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Most of the time it was that still small voice inside that said “I will never leave you..” that I have come to recognize as the Voice my Father God. Now that Now that I have retired from the life of telling pilots where to go, I have been employing the same “trusting the process” in developing my second wind for this season of life.
“I Can Do That”
Micheal Hyatt was made known to me as a virtual mentor through hearing him interviewed by Dave Ramsey. Micheal’s book, Platform – Get Noticed in a Noisy World, had just come out and they were discussing the book in the context of the whole entrepreneurial thing. I bought the book and just like those many years ago, I thought, “I can do that”, and so it started. I am still figuring it out as I go, putting one foot in front of the other, learning, studying and trusting the process. This BLOG is one aspect of this new life.
Another aspect is an intentional personal development or a personal growth plan (PGP). One element of my PGP is reading books. Yes, good old fashioned reading. I was inspired to be intentional about this through Mr. Hyatt as well. In both his BLOG and through podcasts he talked about the benefits of consuming a balanced diet of books:
1. Reading makes us better thinkers
2. Reading improves people skills
3. Reading improves our communication skills, including speaking and writing
4. Reading helps us relax
5. Reading keep us young (I am all for that!)
Process – A Personal Growth Plan
I thought, “I can do that”. So in my 2016 PGP I set a goal to read or listen to 3 books per month. I endeavored to divide these between fiction and non-fiction with some in an audio format. You can see the list of books completed on my Pinterest 2016 Book reading list. I set aside a minimum of 20 minutes each morning as a part of my quiet time and 20 minutes before bedtime for this activity. Fiction reading is reserved for my evening routine slot. Since I plan to continue this element of my PGP for next year, my 2017 list is being compiled.
Instead of going out and spending money on books I did not know if I wanted to keep on my shelf, I have been giving my local library a serious workout. It has been wonderful. There are a few I ended up purchasing as I wanted to mark them up and keep for future reference, but for the most part the public library has been a great partner in this goal. I have been surprised at how much I have enjoyed this activity and its benefits.
So once again, by trusting the process, in other words, taking someone’s advice even if you can’t see or understand the rationale, I have found myself in a better place.
*a confliction meant that two aircraft got closer than the required margins allowed. Opps!
Is there some process you have simply taken someone’s word on? How did it work out? Please share it in the comments below!