The Bright Side of Storms

The Bright Side of Storms

Pilots of small planes give thunderstorms a wide berth. Accidentally flying into a brewing system is feared by many aviators and I’m no exception. But in my everyday life on the ground, thunderstorms elicit a different response. They excite me. 

When I’m outside on a hot day devoid of wind and a sudden breeze cools the back of my neck, I’ll sometimes turn to see dark clouds building over the horizon. The temperature ticks down several degrees before the wind starts to gust, the updrafts making the nearby trees flash the pale green underbellies of their leaves. When the day goes dark and distant thunder rumbles, my body begins to brim with energy. In these moments it’s easy to imagine a cosmic force has torn an invisible rift between worlds and who knows what awaits on the other side?

Why do storms energize me so? They bring damage, they bring loss. Sometimes they bring death. I don’t want that for anyone.

But storms also bring change. Storms roll in when...

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A Magical Power

A Magical Power

Hundreds of years ago, remote communication on earth didn’t extend beyond smoke signals, drums in the night, or the written and spoken word traveling vast distances by ship, horse, or the lonely runner. If you had lived back then and spent the day plowing a field or hunting the woods to feed your family, you would have spent much of it in isolation. That solitude would have given you something a lot of us are missing now: time to think, time for deeper thoughts, time to discover who you were.

Communication is instant now. We have near-constant access to friends and family and they have access to us. We can find the answers to pressing questions with ease. So much power and information sits in the palm of our hands from little boxes, magical devices we carry all day long that makes us feel connected. But are we? Are we really connected or are we tethered?

When you look at the flip side of the instant communication, the constant barrage, there seems to be many who are overwhelmed and agitated by it. I sometimes hear people wish for simpler times, an era before the little boxes when each of us weren’t so accessible. I’ve had those thoughts too.

But when those thoughts flash in my head, I stop them and remind myself of one thing: I’d much rather live now, than in a time before the devices existed. Because the most magical thing I can do with that little box after I’ve used it for what I need, is to press and hold down the power button. I control my life, not that little box. I have the choice to power down to make time for deep thoughts and to ponder questions whose answers can’t be found on the internet.

You have that power too. Don’t be afraid to use it.

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How to Foster Peace and Limit Stress

How to Foster Peace and Limit Stress

When I started training for my pilot license, I was amazed at how I felt after a flight ended. If I ever lifted off from a bleak world, one drained of color from life’s challenges, I always landed in a revived landscape, bright and vivid. No matter what mood I’d been in before the flight, a lightheartedness afterward kept my feet hovering an inch above the earth for the rest of the day.

At first I thought flying to be a magical elixir. If everyone could float in that mystical well of blue sky and peer down on the greens and golds where most of us spent our days, all would find their stress left on the ground. But then my perspective shifted...

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Remember What You Came Here to Do

Remember What You Came Here to Do

I’m a sucker for a distraction. I often walk into my home office with a specific purpose in mind only to waste precious time doing something unplanned. Maybe it’s grabbing a magazine off the desk to read a tempting article whose cover title is far better than the piece itself, or tumbling down the internet rabbit hole when I simply want to pay a bill online. The worst part is that after the detour ends, not only do I feel listless, I’m irritated because I find myself staring into space trying to remember what I originally came into the office do. Over the months, those small detours turn into long stretches of time I can’t account for… and will never get back. And what do I have to show for them?

Nothing.

The same thing happens to our lives. String together countless detours of unplanned activities and they can turn into...

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Get Out of Your Head

Get Out of Your Head

“Stop staring at the instrument panel,” my flight instructor said, finger pointing to the blue stretch of sky beyond the windshield. “Everything that makes flying worth it is out there.” 

I lifted my eyes from the cockpit's gauges and took in the view. He'd made his point well.

Student pilots tend to become fixated on the plane’s panel early in their training. Ignore the altimeter and you can drop 500 feet and not realize it. Disregard the course indicator and a few degrees off your bearing means 100 miles off your intended destination when traveling long distances.

The gauges are extremely important, but experienced pilots have learned to glance briefly at these instruments so they can focus most of their attention on the world outside the cockpit. Some of that world contains things that can ruin your day. Storm clouds and incoming planes fall into that category.

But most of the world beyond the cockpit is a magical tableaux that makes flying worth the enormous effort required to learn. Student pilots don’t pay hard-earned money to learn to fly because they want to stare at a cluster of instruments. They learn because...

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What Some Call Failure, the Successful Call Experience

What Some Call Failure, the Successful Call Experience

Failure can be a scary thing. Most of us sense it lurking at the edge of anything important we try to accomplish. It also has a particular sound to it, our own voices forming the words, “What if I can’t…” or “Who am I to…”

We try to shrug it off and move forward, but its weight sometimes slows our inertia until one day we aren’t moving forward any more. For some, they stop trying at all. Those people often awaken near the end of their lives to find themselves...

 

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The Current of Life

The Current of Life

In my last post I promised ideas to help you flow with life versus forcing it. If you’ve been trying to force life to happen on your terms and your timeline, you can probably recognize it because you’ve expended tremendous energy and effort for minimal gain. It feels as if you are swimming upstream.

And that’s what’s happening. You are trying to reach your goals and destination by mainly using logic and manual effort instead of trusting a universal, unseen current that yearns to whisk you on a great adventure. The current knows where it’s going so stop resisting and let it do the hard work.

Will the ride be easy, a gentle river winding the entire way to your ultimate destination? Not at all. You will have to navigate and survive multiple rapids on your journey. Sometimes the current will smash you against massive boulders. You’ll be sore, perhaps a little bloodied, but as those unyielding rocks fade in the distance, your wounds will heal and you’ll be smarter and tougher than before. You may gain newfound abilities to dodge the boulders next time, and if not, at least you’ll remember the pain is temporary.

So what does it feel like to let this invisible current do the hard work? How do you take advantage of it to make life easier? Below are ideas that have worked for me:

-View life as a treasure hunt

Life is littered with precious gems that most people pass over because they don’t recognize them as such. Many of the gems are...

 

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Life Flows

Life Flows

Continued from Life Force:

There must be an easier way.

Those words sifted through my mind five years ago as I sat on the front steps of my office building watching traffic flow past. I had stepped out to clear my head, hoping to escape the weight that crushed me inside. The previous six months had been a nightmare with setbacks and difficulties, small and large, pushing me toward an edge I didn’t want to be anywhere near. 2008 had already been one of the worst years of my life even before the economy started to rip apart at its seams that fall. Seven years before, I’d been jolted awake by 9/11, had made significant life changes by learning to fly and starting to write, but little had changed about my primary career. Years had passed and I was in the exact same spot I’d never wanted to be in the first place, mainly, working for someone else, implementing their vision instead of mine. I didn’t feel in control of my own destiny, and I needed to be in control.

Or so I thought...

 

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Life Force

Life Force

I’ve penned Lessons from the Cockpit for over four years and in all those posts I don’t believe I’ve written one as important as this. If I’ve cultivated any major life philosophy over the years, this is it.

In 2010 I launched a business with two partners, great people whom I trust completely. We’ve grown from only three of us initially to nearly fifty employees. Last week we were named number nineteen of the fifty fastest growing companies in our region. The company has exceeded my expectations in every way, and I feel the best is yet to come.

I share this to highlight the fact that I’m not a passive guy. Anyone who knows me will attest that I don’t sit and wait for things to happen. I look to the sky for lots of things—peace, inspiration, fun—but I’ll never lift my eyes upward with the expectation a financial windfall will float down and land at my feet.

To an outside observer, it may appear that...

 

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Raising Fools - Part 2

Raising Fools - Part 2

Continued from Raising Fools - Part 1

I’m lying with my upper back flat while the rest of me twists to the left, right knee almost touching down to the floor mat. The move soothes my lower back, especially the right side that is tight from sitting at a desk too much lately. Over twenty people surround me, all of us mirroring the moves my wife makes from atop the platform at the front of the group exercise room. We are stretching at the end of her weight training class; she tells us to twist a little more if we can.

I glance around the room and an errant thought skims past. It disappears before I grasp its full meaning. Not until I walk past the gym’s yoga studio a day later does it hit me. I back up to...

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