New Year, New Plans

What is there about the "New Year" that provides an impetus for many of us to set some new goals, plans and make some resolutions?  In reality, it is just a date in the diary, a tick in the box marking the end of one sunrise and sunset and the beginning of another.  Yet because it comes at the end of a period of a relatively quieter period and break from the normal routine, it does give us some time for reflection, rest and forward projection.

In my last blog I shared I am having some fun times with two of our grandsons, reading a book together about how to make a positive difference.  It has re-fired my energies to look at my own situation, reflect and then plan for 2015 and beyond.  One of the commitments (I prefer to call them this than resolutions) is to regularly share, once or twice a month excerpts with explanations and updates from my book, IMPACT!  In going through this with Chris and George, and seeing how they have benefited from it, it has motivated me even more to get others moving along the path of making a positive difference.

Lord knows we need more people resolving to make a positive difference as we hear of the terrorists attack in France.  These attacks are perpetrated by people who want to change the world by force and this means through fear and death.  Surely we need more and more of us making a difference to change our world in a positive way.  So why not come on board this journey called IMPACT?   Use this time of your life, in this year, 2015, to begin to make a greater impact and reach more of your potential.  Here's the first instalment: 

Cleared For Take-Off

   “Redstick 34, you are cleared for takeoff.”      My 23-year-old heart was in my throat. Breathing very deeply, I could hear the fluttering of the oxygen mask valve as I replied, “Roger, Redstick 34 cleared for takeoff.”  I slowly advanced the two throttles connected to the jet engines of my supersonic jet, the T-38 Talon, and released the brakes.  My legs began to shake uncontrollably, and I wondered, “Can I really hold the brakes while I run up the engines, or will I be slipping down the runway looking absolutely stupid?” Then I pointed the nose of the sleek, pristine ‘white rocket with jet engines’ down the center of the runway.  As it came to a halt, I ran up the engines to full military power.  I quickly checked the engine tachometers and other gauges to ensure everything was normal and pointing at 9 or 3 O’clock, then released the brakes, and advanced the throttles into full afterburner. BANG! went the engines as the full power hurled me back into my seat… 5 seconds, 10 seconds, everything was okay, then at 130 knots groundspeed, I pulled the joystick back between my knees  to control the pitch of the airplane.  The nose rose slowly to 10 degrees above the horizon, as the airspeed reached 150 knots - I was airborne!  Quickly raising the gear handle I felt the landing gear retract into the belly of the aircraft, and zoomed out and up to 30,000 feet within a couple of minutes.  I was piloting a supersonic aircraft solo!

With the coolest voice I could muster, I radioed the tower, “Redstick 34 airborne, switching to Departure.”  “Roger, Redstick, have a good flight.”  This was instantly more than a good flight as I was solo, in my own three-dimensional world, flying at 30 to 50 thousand feet, dancing amongst the clouds, and totally in control of that airplane.  I was not simply flying the T-38; it was an extension of me, my personality, my will – whatever I wanted it to do within reason, it would respond, so long as I respected its boundaries and followed some basic deeply ingrained flying principles.  On many subsequent flights I would take even more risks and climb to the edge of space until curvature of the earth was dramatically contoured – the sky appeared an eerie dark blue beyond the earth’s  luminous curve.  Mystically, the airplane slips through the sound barrier into mach 1 – I am flying faster than the speed of sound!

Breaking Through Mental Barriers

Allow me to explain the correlation between my flying solo in a supersonic aircraft and making an impact in life. As a youngster from a rural farming background in mid-America, to break the monotony of farming and ranching the 2,250 acres heavily mortgaged by my father, I would sit on the tractor and dream of flying one day.  This dream had become a reality!  Even for me!  As I think of how my life changed as I followed my dreams, it has been fascinating to see how the invisible barriers, like the sound barrier for an aircraft, can be overcome. 

If you cannot relate to the flying experience, consider driving.  If you have a driver’s license, can you remember what it was like before you had unlimited access to a car or the legal right to drive it? You depended upon others for transportation, waited for the bus or train or you were being confined to a bicycle for rapid mobility. Then remember the liberating joy of being able to go wherever you wanted to go, when you wanted to go, and not having to ask for permission?  New dimensions of your world previously unavailable to you now became possible!  With this new freedom, of course, came basic principles and procedures to follow, and you had to develop a whole new perspective, set of skills and behavior in order for you to earn the right to have the freedom.  You had to learn a new language and set of words to accompany your new freedom in order to effectively function within the new world of motor vehicle driving.

So what new freedom do you wish you had?  What barrier would you like to push through?  Jot this down somewhere in a journal or on your computer.  We'll come back to it in later blogs.