Archive for November, 2014

I know. Another numbered list. It seems to be the [latest] eye-catcher on LinkedIn. But please don’t hang up just yet. I don’t think you’ve heard this one quite this way.

As you read, consider your situations – yes, all of them. This will apply not only to your career, or perhaps lack-of career situation, but also to your family and friends and home situation or your most private inside yourself-nobody else–really-knows-what’s-really-going-on-inside situation. All of these overlap in some way, to some extent. We are human, after all. But even corporations behave this way, as inanimate and impersonal as they can be.


Aviators have a way of making and keeping things, like explanations, short and simple. This is one of those. Here they are – the things you really need to do to live through whatever is happening – from a high altitude perspective; what every aviator is taught. How to survive – and make it back, or out, or through – alive.

And by the way, it is vital – the key to everything, actually – that they are taken and applied in exactly and only in the order presented. DO NOT get them out of order.

1. Aviate.

The first thing above all else in flying? Keep flying. Keep going. Nothing else matters if you crash. So keep flying – survive – and keep going. Such is the case with our basic survival.

Apply it to work. Or lack of work.

For those of us who are or have been between careers, for whatever the reason – fired, laid off, “RIF”ed, contract lost, whatever – it is critical to keep going. Self-doubt, blame, anger, confusion, guilt – all self-destructive – are a crash. You don’t want it, don’t need it, don’t deserve it and can’t afford a crash. Especially if days turn to weeks which turn to too many months. We all have a place in this life. So the point is first – survive, thrive and find that place.

Keep flying means to get up and go to work every day anyway. Even if only in your home office or workspace. That means groom well, dress for work, eat a good breakfast, plan your day.

– – –

Effective and Efficient

– – –

Think in terms of effective and efficient. Handle your domestic or family responsibilities – like a leader, like a parent, like a spouse, like a homeowner or a biller payer. Decide you will make it through. “Decide” is the key word. Then act. Every day.

Remind yourself of the focus you need to have, too. Work health (effort, for one), family or home health, physical health, mental and emotional health. Each area of your life is vital. Attend to each one. In short, you must take care of yourself to function.

Just today I attended networking meeting at the end of which the moderator said, “Now get busy, don’t sit around and watch TV; you’ll get depressed. And lose five pounds. You’ll feel better and look better.” How right she is. Get your life in balance. I won’t restate it all here, but I have written a similar piece, Four things you can do if you get lost , discussing The Balanced Life. Check it out for more detail.

First things first: Aviate. Keep flying – above all else. Keep going. If you don’t do this, nothing else [good] can happen.

2. Navigate.

You’re flying – surviving. Good, you keep going and you are now able to take the next action. You are able to navigate – figure out where to go – because you are aviating – surviving. So there is the next fundamental question:

Where are you going? Where do you want to go? Where can you go? Where should you go? Sort out your direction and go that way. Meeting with, being with people takes us a long way toward this end. Networking – and getting out – and amongst people, reaching out, seeking – these are part of our personal life navigation.

Make a plan every day. In fact, make a plan for every day– a written plan – for the week – before the new week arrives. This is your flight plan.

Work to fill your calendar with no-kidding important stuff that must be done. Again, think in terms of effective and efficient. And ask your self – test your plan – along the way: What I am doing – Is this effective? Is this an efficient way to do it? In other words, much of successful navigation is using your time well. Effectively and efficiently.

Networking, appointment requests, groups, applications on-line. Emails, LinkedIn invitations and follow-up notes and thank you’s and phone calls to people in your network. Schedule networking meetings – find groups through MeetUp, even look to a local church or other religious group (yes, start on-online with that, too) for a career transition group or similar. Ask your family, friends and other contacts for information about networking groups.

When you choose to plan your navigation and choose to go through the necessary motions of navigation, only then do you have the very best chance to arrive at your planned destination. There are no promises or absolutes as to what you will find enroute or when you arrive. Only your promise to yourself that you will get going and keep going.

You’re still going, you’re figuring out your direction. Now it’s time to talk.

3. Communicate.

Now, the truth is, this works best as last only in aviation. You see clearly that in this illustration, communication is vital to your survival in every step of your process.

Communication with those closest to you, people you’re meeting and trying to meet, and utilizing the tools, like LinkedIn, that you have readily available – is vital to your well-being and success. And remember that your communication should not be all about your work situation or career, or the struggle to find it. You’re more than that. Talk – deal with – your life as a whole. Do not neglect the other areas of your life. There’s that balance thing again.

Even still, you do need to prioritize so that you do not neglect the first two. When you’re up and able to operate, you can communicate. When you have a plan ready to execute, a calendar ready to live out, you are better prepared to communicate effectively and efficiently.

Write thank you notes. Write any kind of note to those you meet with or want to meet with. Yes – hand-written, and put them in the actual snail-mail. Yes, weird – I know. But it is critical communication. Be thankful and thoughtful and say so. Say what you want and say what you can offer. And by the way, as simple as it sounds, it’s [nowadays] a way to set yourself apart from the crowd.

Aviate, Navigate, Communicate. In that order. And you will make it.

– – –


Finally, through all this, trust your instruments.

Spin Recovery

Most pilots, at some point in their flying careers, have experienced an uncontrolled spin. It may have been induced – initiated – on purpose, say, during a student training scenario. I have known enough fighter pilots who have described a loss of control they did not welcome but where able by whatever means available, to recover their situation and land safely. Many in aviation history have not. And such is life.

A fighter pilot usually has the unique visual experience provided by a bubble canopy; a clear Plexiglas-like bubble surrounding the cockpit that affords a nearly unobstructed view of the world outside. Imagine if it was you, and you had that view at 30 thousand feet above earth, except that suddenly, your view flipped upside down, and when you would look up, you would be staring at the rapidly approaching ground. And not only that, but the view is spinning fast, chaotically, violently. And your body is sensing all this very acutely and unhappily. Confusion, noise, buffeting and g-forces, alarms; the world outside is a mess of a high-speed smear of colors that you cannot make sense of.

And it all means Failure. Death.

Still, inside, the cockpit is stationary. Nothing has moved (relatively speaking), nothing has changed. But the instruments are spinning or moving wildly, confirming the reality outside.

But they are also functioning as they should and they are accurate. They are telling you the truth.

You have an Attitude indicator (artificial horizon), a compass, Vertical speed indicator (for climb or descent), a turn and bank indicator, Course deviation indicator, a slip indicator, an altimeter and airspeed indicator. Even fuel and power information. Even communication equipment. And probably more.

Too many people have become statistics because they did not believe what their instruments were telling them. They looked to the chaotic and out-of-control world outside themselves – outside their cockpit – for guidance.

If you act on your training, and respond appropriately to the information your instruments are giving you, it may be possible to recover your situation.

In life, your instruments are your moral compass – your belief system, your values, the support of trusted family and friends. It is also everything in your sphere of experience, training and know-how. This includes your self-imposed and externally-imposed boundaries you have accepted as good and right and appropriate. As for me, I am hung up on family, friends, effort, and spiritual guidance. I am hung up on a New Testament passage – Luke 2: 52. I keep writing about it. Look it up.

Whatever it is for you, or whatever you’re exploring that is truly good for you, trust these things, and regularly seek out both the exercise of these, to hone and strengthen them, and to reinforce them through connection with people you know and trust; people who will be part of a positive and encouraging circle in your life.

Yeager survives

No matter what it may look like outside, no matter how chaotic – aviate, navigate and communicate. And trust your instruments.

If you do these things, you will survive, and you have preserved, perhaps created, your opportunity to thrive.


If you find this perspective useful, even helpful, you might like to check out some of my other pieces, all posted at Ask A Hoosier.com. I write on a number subjects, virtually all facets of life. These are from AAH’s Work and Career section:

3 Challenges I have yet to overcome

Some Things I have Learned from People . . .

Wrestling with Picasso’s Bull

Read Full Post »

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