Step it up a Notch

Step it up a Notch

I had an interesting conversation with an associate today about the need to inspire others to move out of their comfort zones and into a greater, fuller expression of themselves. As with so many conversations or events that catch my eye or interest, my thoughts on the matter have evolved through the day and it is my delight to share them with you in the hopes that you and those around you might be inspired to step your living up a notch.

Let’s Face It #1

It is so easy to let yourself be lulled into a false sense of security that comes with familiarity, but let’s face it, we live in a dynamic world in which change is constantly afoot. Despite the earnest efforts of many throughout history to defy the laws of living, you cannot really “stay the same” for in so doing you fall behind and eventually apart, for adaptation is critical to survival.

On “Staying the Same”

To be sure, you cannot “stay the same” physically, for your body is constantly exchanging cellular material with your environment and you, biologically speaking, are not the same person as you were yesterday or that you will be by the time you finish reading this post!

Try as you may to “stay the same” mentally by clamping down on ideas and beliefs to which you vow to adhere come hell or high water, your mind is constantly adapting neurologically to the changing stimuli around you.

And your heart, well, don’t even get me started! Your heart, as much as some like to use it as their brain and others like to ignore it all cost, is the most impressionable and thus malleable of the tools you have which give the inner you, your spirit, your being, or whatever you’d prefer to call it sentience, sentiments and mobility – your body, mind and heart!

Let’s Face It #2

Everyone has experienced tragedy, loss or failure of some sort in his life at some point or another. Some are exposed to more devastating and chronic negative influences while others manage to escape relatively unscathed, but we all have mental, emotional and physical scarring to deal with. The more extreme cases may require delicate handling, but everyone has an opportunity to move forward, to grow up and to move more gracefully with the flow of life that will occur with or without the participation of humanity.

What can you do today to step it up a notch? One of the best ways to answer this is to first ask yourself “what limiting assumptions have I held in this area of my living?” An honest answer to this query will invariably get the ball rolling. Maybe you’ve held someone hostage by your prejudiced views or inflexible expectations of them. Or perhaps you’ve not felt yourself up to the task of taking the next step to expand your world. Limiting assumptions always lead to atrophy, which in turn lead to entropy.

I do not possess enough faith to believe that the dizzying complexity of your body’s construction with all of its levels of coordinated organization, the intricate design of your mind and the limitless potential of your heart came together to form the peculiar vehicle that allows for the expression of the unique focus of life that you are just so that you could live a life of mediocrity! You are here to grow and learn, to move from glory unto glory each and every day of your life so that your soul (in the sense of nephesh, that is, the tangible aspects of your life – your body mind and heart) can accommodate the steadily expanding and refining expression of your spirit, the invisible, intangible aspect of you.

This is important for you personally, but the greater blessing is to the world around you. Each time you step it up a notch you prove to those around you that they too can take heart and move forward. Life is too precious to waste by dithering in mediocrity or settling for the sake of comfort.

Rise up and bring it!

In Support of General Aviation

Photo credit: Alice Daer

General aviation makes life easy. In an era where airline travel is increasingly inconvenient – the extra fees, lines, invasive searches and draconian rules – general aviation provides an increasingly attractive alternative. Despite the unfairly earned negative reputation held by general aviation after the chiefs of the Big Three automakers were scolded by an zealous Congressman, general aviation or private air travel (as an alternative to commercial travel) saves time, creates jobs, and fuels the economy while offering the individuals and companies who use it significant and measurable competitive advantages (to download a full report see https://ssl.nbaa.org/prodsvcs/store/free/).

As a commercial pilot who flies and manages a company-owned airplane, there is an ever-so-slight chance that I am biased from an emotional standpoint. Well, ok. I love to fly! I’ve been smitten with the flying bug nearly all my life and that love affair was intensified by my early training with an old school, seat-of-the-pants instructor, Mack Goodwin in Troy, Michigan.

I learned to fly twenty-five years ago but my flight instructor, who was no spring chicken at the time, is still going strong! In fact, I was visiting my original home base this weekend and I saw this sign posted on the information board at the airport.

Photo by Gregg Hake

General aviation makes good financial sense in many situations. In our case it allows me and my team to get to our clients quickly and efficiently. We can get in and out of several locations in a single day in what would require the time and cost two-three days of travel, waits, hotels, meals, etc. And I am not even counting the opportunity cost of the unnecessary and increasingly lengthy delays.

General aviation is also convenient. We can carry equipment, product and just about anything else we might need to better serve our customers without concern for theft, damage or loss. We can depart from our local airport (just minutes from the office) and land at an airport within minutes of our destination. At most airports the FBO (Fixed Base Operator) pulls the rental car up to the plane and helps transfer the baggage. Such convenience is hard to top!

When it makes sense to fly the company plane, my team and are spared exposure to the viruses and germs that populate the airport halls and airplane cabins, which equates to less downtime. We are also much less likely to have any security issues. As long as our airplane is professionally managed and flown by an experienced and current flight crew, it is safe, reliable and hard to beat!

Sometimes it helps to hear the other side of the story. Negative press dominates in today’s media and hearing the story from the horse’s mouth is to me often preferable to hearing it second or third hand. What is even more amusing is when you hear reports, opinions and judgments by those who are neither involved nor have any personal experience in the matter!

As a pilot I can assure you that most news reports on aviation are full of erroneous data and assumptions. Pilots try hard to state the facts as they are without undue emotional charge and generally speaking “say it like it is.” If you want to hear the pilot’s side of the news stories, look to sites like www.avweb.com, www.aopa.org, www.nbaa.org and www.planeandpilot.com.

If you haven’t already, take the time to support general aviation in your community. Attend the fly-ins and air shows, talk to pilots about the history of the airfield and what it has facilitated in your city or town or take a picnic lunch and watch the wide variety of airplanes, big and small, young and old take off and land. You won’t be disappointed, in fact, you might be surprised at what a dynamic, interesting productive microcosm a small airport can be!

Our Planet is a Curious Place: Change, Grudges and Forgiveness

Our planet is a curious place. 

Filled with a remarkable array of both animate and inanimate objects, its surface and all that dwell thereupon morph from moment to moment.  Never were there two moments exactly the same in history.  A snapshot taken today of the earth in its fulness would be hardly recognizable if shown to our forefathers 100, 1,000 or 5,000 years ago.  Forms of life come and go, but life itself is given new expression continually.  In that sense it could be said that life itself never dies.

The one constant in life is change. 

Seventy-five percent of your body is water and that water is replaced roughly monthly.  Roughly seven percent of your body is blood cells or blood fluid.  Those cells are replaced every 30 days or so.  In a study published in the Annual Report for the Smithsonian Institution in 1953 scientists found that ninety-eight percent of your atoms are replaced each year.  Atoms make up molecules, molecules form cells, cells combine to form tissues and tissues make up organs.  

You are given the gift of a new you, every year. 

You are not the same person you were when you began reading this post, two minutes ago.  In fact, hardly anything on earth is the same as it was two minutes ago.  The earth has spun a little, moved a little in its orbit, the sun has moved around its center point.  You are different, your pets have changed and so have your friends and even your enemies, for that matter.

Why is it then that people are so prone to holding grudges?  A grudge is a petrified opinion about something or someone.  “I hate uncle so-and-so because of how he treated me the other day,” one might say.  And for the life of the grudge otherwise valuable life energy is poured into hurling words or sticks and stones to settle the score.  With the amount of grudges held in the hearts of men and women it’s no wonder that adrenal exhaustion is one of the most common ailments of patients in complementary and alternative medical clinics!

Grudges fester like a gangrenous wound.  They rarely are contained to the wound site, in fact, deeply held grudges tend to eat away at the fabric of life, like acid in a paper cup.  Misery seeks company, so grudge holders tend to seek out others of the same feather.  Commiseration.  Not a pretty sight.

The only way to release a grudge and to begin living is to embrace and extend forgiveness.  That said, forgiveness is not for the weak-hearted or the weak-minded.  Forgiveness is, as Gandhi once said, “an attribute of the strong.” 

The forms of life are ever-changing.  One trap of the human mind is to try to lock in an ideal experience and to try to hold on to it ad nauseum.  I once saw a talk show that featured brides who, a full year after being married, secretly put on their wedding dresses daily(!) when their husband was away and watched the wedding ceremony on video.  A little extreme, of course, but it illustrates the point.  Obsession with the way things were is like running in quicksand.  It gets you nowhere.

Further, an over-reliance on the forms around oneself gives a false sense of security and happiness.  The forms themselves are wonderful, but remember that they are ever-changing.  Is it not the life that animates the people and animals around you that evokes wonderment?  Is it not the living done in the house that makes it a home?  The bricks and mortar are great, but only as a setting for the enjoyment of life.      

It’s a bit sad that most people spend their childhood wishing they could grow up quickly and be adults, while most adults wish that time would slow down or that they could be as children again.  There is a certain irony to life when it is not lived properly. 

To live life fully, to experience love fully, you must be adept at forgiveness.  Men and women have struggled with this concept through the ages, trying their best to find some other way around the inevitable consequences of failing to offer forgiveness.  They’ve made heroes out of those precious few who revealed the power of forgiveness no matter how extreme the hardship – Martin Luther King, Jr, Desmond Tutu, Mahatma Gandhi, Jesus, and so on – but for some reason when the going gets rough they forget that forgiveness is well within their power too.

Our planet is a curious place.

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