Flaming Enthusiasm

Flaming enthusiasm, backed up by horse sense and persistence, is the quality that most frequently makes for success.” ~ Dale Carnegie

Swiss pilot Yves Rossy is making history as the first person to achieve sustained human flight using a jet-powered wing strapped to his back. While his accomplishments to date are impressive, three points in particular stand out to me as being worthy of personal consideration and application.

The first two were points Rossy made during a Fox News interview in 2008. Rossy jets along at an average of 125 mph, with no flight controls beyond subtle movements of his body, and he says that he must work hard to relax in the air because “if you put tension on your body, you start to swing around.” I’ve found this principle to be valuable on many levels. It works mentally, physically, emotionally and is the secret to unlocking genius, original thought and unmistakable self-possession.

The second is similarly instructive: “I’ve had many ‘whoops’ moments,” Rossy said. “My safety is altitude.” Altitude is almost always your friend in aviation. It buys you time to think, time to plan, time to act. The same is true in relation to every phase of living. Your attitude determines your altitude and altitude is your friend. When you are possessed by flaming enthusiasm, when your heart and mind are caught up unto the spirit of victory, you gain a cushion of air that helps you to keep you from crashing to the ground when the usual factors that provide lift in your life fail you.

The final point is Rossy’s brief mention in the TED video clip below of his translation of the principles learned at the controls of the airplanes he’s flown into practical application while he’s wearing the jet pack. Life is full of such synergies, and the more successfully you parlay the breakthroughs and victories in in part of your life into the other, the more likely it is that you will shorten the learning curve in your next endeavor.

I hope that you have a few minutes to enjoy this interview. The feeling might come up in you that Mr. Rossy is crazy and that his enthusiasm borders on madness; such is the fate of an aviation pioneer who is obsessed with defeating the “flying problem.” After all, the Wright brothers were viewed by the locals at Kitty Hawk as two crazy nuts who thought that they could fly.


The Antidote to Premature Aging


Photo Credit: Lisa DeJong

A friend of mine told me that she was inspired by the example of others recently to start a new hobby. The hobby she chose, rowing, met several criteria for her as it was outdoors, involved opportunities for solitude as well as social time and provided exercise without physical exertion being the central focus. I wish I had a camera so that I could share with you the light that was in her eyes when she described her new-found passion.


Hobbies provide avenues for self-expression, personal development and ┬áchange in rhythm. My college soccer coach, who was a marathoner himself, taught me that varying the rhythm in distance running can provide for better performance and greater mental alertness over the long haul. The same could be said for your daily rhythms. If you are stuck in a “it’s time to make the donuts” repetitive rhythm, you might want to consider shaking it up a bit.

It is so easy to get into repetitive patterns that turn lightly-worn paths into ruts over time. I once heard someone say that the only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth and I feel strongly that everyone should find ways to have variety in life, to fill out flat spots in development and to express themselves more fully throughout life.

Consider this: no matter how old you are right now, dear reader, you are as young as you will ever be for the rest of your life. It’s never too late to start! Take up that hobby or activity that you’ve always thought would be interesting. What do you have to lose?

An active body and an active mind are an effective antidote to premature aging. Likewise, a balanced oscillation between activity and rest makes for better sleep, greater productivity when awake and a progressively more influential life. I find it strange that many people seem to give up on the idea that they can live generative, influential lives right up to their last living breath.

One of my readers, “FlyingGma” (Flying Grandma), is a grandmother who took up flying very recently in her life. I loved to hear her story and continue to enjoy reading her posts on her travels. Life needn’t be a bell curve, where you return to inactivity and impotence in your latter years. In fact, life can be and should be an ascending spiral, where its actors soar ever upward like a hawk in a thermal.

If you find something that lights your fire, that pushes you to perform closer to the edges of your present envelope and that calls for something new from deep inside of you, I will assure you that the rest of your world will benefit. Passion is contagious! Even the dullest aspects of your life will receive a breath of fresh air if you allow yourself to open up in new ways.

Gird up your loins, as they used to say, and enjoy a new challenge. The nature of the activity doesn’t matter; it could be physical, intellectual, esoteric, practical, serious or outrageous. The fact that you dive right in and let your mind and heart be caught up in a new field of creative expression is what truly matters, for flow begets flow.

I imagine that some of you have taken up new hobbies recently while others are contemplating them. Please share your stories! I’d love to hear them and how they affected your worlds.