Pilot or Passenger?

Pilot or Passenger?

Flight, Individual Greatness, Leadership, Personal Value, Vector
A-10 Control Stick During pilot training, one of the instructors in the T-37 was notorious for grabbing the student’s oxygen hose and squeezing it to cut off the supply of oxygen.  While doing so, he would ask, “Are you a pilot, or passenger?”  While teaching formation flight, he was particularly sadistic.  When his student had trouble getting into position right off of the fingertip of their flight lead only a few feet away, he would again grab his student’s oxygen mask and say, “Get in position!  No fingertip, no oxygen!” There may be better ways to teach, but this instructor's madness worked.  Fear and a little bit of panic drove his students to get in position, take control of the aircraft, and learn how to be a pilot instead of a passenger. I spent quite…
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True Measure of Greatness

True Measure of Greatness

Armed Service, Excellence, Friendship, Individual Greatness, Leadership, Priorities, Veterans
I recently attended the Memorial Service of W. Parker Greene of Valdosta, Georgia.  A former Army Corporal, furniture businessman and father/husband from an obscure Southern town, anyone who did not know him is sure to wonder why the highest ranking officer in the United States Air Force, the Mayor, State Chief of the Highway Patrol and a number of other dignitaries, including over 3,000 people, would show up to celebrate the life of this 87-year old Southern Gentleman.  And therein lies the secret of greatness of Parker.               Parker did not hail from any powerful family.  He was not a great business leader who commanded millions of dollars.  He was not a politician in any sort of way, as I never saw him disparage an opposing view or another person, and he sought no elected…
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Veterans and Ballplayers–Helping them Find Their Next Team

Armed Service, Freedom, PTSD, Team, Veterans
Military Team Members The statistics are staggering. According to a 2009 Sports Illustrated article, 78% of National Football League (NFL) players are either bankrupt or are under financial stress within two years of retirement and an estimated 60% of National Basketball Association (NBA) players go bankrupt within five years after leaving their sport. While many of these numbers have been disputed and minimized, the facts still clearly show a large number of formerly elite athletes struggle after their careers. They struggle with the day to day, with divorce, with finding other employment, with finding meaning in their lives. The statistics between these former marquis athletes and veterans is eerie. Like the athletes, many veterans were the cream of the crop (Just don't ask Salon or the NYT). They endured challenging training, acquired skills that few in the world…
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Til the Last Breath

Excellence, Family, Hope, Individual Greatness, Leadership
“I can do this all day.”  --Steve Rogers, Pre-Captain America transformation, as he proceeded to get pummeled in a Brooklyn alley.   We recently lost our son to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy just prior to his twenty-fifth birthday.  Like all who are born with that disease, his muscles slowly failed, starting with his voluntary muscles, then lastly his involuntary muscles.  His heart finally pumped its last bit of blood on the 6thof October 2018, then quit.  But Andrew never did, not til his last breath. Andrew was 4 when he was first diagnosed.  We thought he just had flat feet, and wanted to get him some orthotics to help him walk like a normal little boy.  He was unable to really run, had a swaying gate that seemed to be compensating…
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Perspective and Goals in Simple Things

Perspective and Goals in Simple Things

Family, Perspective, Priorities, Relaxation, Vector
Often, even the simplest and most tedious of tasks provide much-needed relief from 'the grind' of modern life, and provide us with a moment to reflect on what matters.  They also present us with opportunities to stretch ourselves in the same moment. My wife and I recently found one such task in a dusty field in the middle of nowhere. We were returning from a short trip to the Teton Valley on the West side of the Teton Range in Eastern Idaho/Western Wyoming recently, a valley full of lush fields, amazing vistas, beautiful skylines, and abundant wildlife.  I had given a small presentation to an unnamed board, and we were in a hurry to get home to kids, family chores, and sleep…
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Establishing a Personal Baseline

Armed Service, Excellence, Individual Greatness, Leadership, Military Affairs, Personal Value
I arrived, along with nearly fourteen-hundred of my new classmates, in Colorado Springs during the first week of July 1985 for Basic Cadet Training at the United States Air Force Academy.  My parents dropped me off earlier that morning at Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia, and to say that I was apprehensive was like saying I thought Christie Brinkley was kind of cute.  I was borderline scared.  My dad had been a cadet in the Air Force Academy’s first graduating class, and had shared with me a glimpse of what to expect.  I was not looking forward to it at all.  It was hard to say goodbye to my family, but what filled my mind were the…
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