My Favorite Parenting Advice

Parenting is hard. Really hard. By the time we have kids, most of us haven’t figured out what we want from our own lives after decades of trying. Yet, somehow we’re expected to...


Sometimes You Gotta Make a Mess to Make Something Beautiful

Life is messy. We spend our time trying to organize the chaos into something recognizable, but messiness will always be part of it, especially when we start something new. Here's why you should…


Why You Must Believe in Yourself

There are probably many people in your life who believe in your ability to succeed. Mom or dad or the significant other. But those...


What to Do if You Want the Benefits of Meditation but Have Trouble Doing It

Does the world really need another post on meditation? Probably not. But there’s a reason it gets lots of attention...


Mistakes Fuel Growth (The Pianist Who Almost Wasn’t)

Hate making mistakes? Me too. But unless you never attempt anything hard, making mistakes comes with living a full life. I've made a lot of them, but I'm lucky to have a daily reminder of the…


Procrastination Paradox: Why Done is Better than Great

Procrastination sucks. If there is one thing that has slowed me down in life more than I care to admit, even though I’m doing so now, it’s procrastination. It’s not as much an issue for activities I…


Talk Some Nonsense Into Me

For readers who know me only from the blog, in my other life I run an information technology firm that helps multi-billion dollar organizations make better software. If you’ve ever wanted to smack…


Three Concepts Aspiring Writers Should Know (The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly)

More people than you’d think harbor dreams of writing. This is apparent to me because when someone learns about my experience, I often hear...


How to Rise Above the Storm Clouds in Life

How do you feel when you walk outside to a bright blue sky? Good? I do. What if the day is dark, with rainclouds hanging low? Different feeling, right? I like it sometimes if we need rain or a break…


The Best Ways to Find Shark Teeth at the Beach

I’ve been addicted to hunting shark teeth on beaches for a long time. The activity is meditative and helps clears my mind, at least until exhilaration spikes when I see the perfect tooth and snatch…


Why You Should Keep a Journal and How It Will Change Your Life

If there is one activity that has vastly improved my life in multiple ways, it’s journaling. I’ve mentioned this to numerous people who’ve asked me for success advice over the years and the reactions…


What Fills Your World?

I sometimes envy people who travel the world with everything they own slung over their shoulders in a backpack. How carefree it must be to only keep up with whatever is packed in that modest canvas…


A Course in Nature

From the deck of our oceanfront rental, I watched my boys play in the sand. “Play” is probably the wrong word. Looked more like work to me. Shovels and elbows moved in unison to pile sand…


When a Flaw Becomes a Strength

I drive through an old neighborhood on my way to the office and back every day. It’s the highlight of my commute because I like to pass under the sprawling canopy created by massive trees that meet…


Watch the Moments

Watch the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves. My friend’s dad used to say that often. It sounds old-fashioned in this day and age. Most people used to snatch pennies from the…


No Coincidences

Have you ever watched a movie that follows multiple characters over a period of time as they unknowingly weave in and out of each others lives? Then fate brings them together near the end? Critics…


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…


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…


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…


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…


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…


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…


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…


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…


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,…


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…


Raising Fools

We have three boys, all with different personalities yet similar in so many ways. When the oldest was eleven or so, I’d often walk into the family room to find him nearly upside down watching…


Expand Your World

Conventional wisdom says aquarium fish only grow as large as the tank will support. I don’t know if that’s true, but I’m willing to bet it’s spot on for humans when it comes to growth as individuals,…


The Transmission of You

For those of you who still listen to the radio, perhaps you have a favorite station you tune in to on the way to work everyday. What if a runaway truck demolished your car in the office parking lot…


Let Nature Spill In

Our upstairs air conditioner stopped working one Friday evening in late May. I almost called the repair guy but held off. Waiting until Monday meant a cheaper bill instead of rates at time and a…


Nothing is Impossible

What in your world do you define as impossible, that you wish weren't? To make a living as a painter? To run your own business? To travel 100 million light years to another galaxy? Don’t believe…


An Empty Space

I never thought about the old man until I’d see him on my way home. If the weather was good, he’d be there, sitting on his porch at the intersection of Lake Brandt and Lawndale where an endless line…


No “L”

It looked as if a forest had exploded. Green pine needles littered our carpet with a trail of them scattered throughout our foyer. This was the beginning of the New Year, and the mess came from…


No Small Lives

A great actor can transform a bit part into something amazing and memorable. That is why the acting great Stanislavsky said, “There are no small roles, only small actors.” The quote stood out for me…


Book Recommendation: “Lessons from the Monk I Married”

I’ve been running full steam over the last six months with a new business but finally found some time to read Katherine Jenkins’ new book, Lessons from the Monk I Married, which is also the…


Movie Lessons: Almost Famous

My friend, David Horne, occasionally writes a “Movie Lessons” segment for his blog. I love these and constantly nag him to write them more often. So, while I wait for him to pen a new one, I decided…


Free the Fireflies

Summer always reminds me of childhood when I would play outside with friends until dusk and beyond. On many evenings when the light faded, the soft glow of fireflies pulled us from whatever game we'd…


Live Outside the Lines

Life on the ground is often rigid. We spend the better part of our days living between the lines, whether it’s the boundaries of a house or office, the narrow edges of a sidewalk, or the slightly…


From a Distance

As I neared my speaking venue, I suddenly regretted not making time to wash my car. The thin film of dust on the vehicle’s black hood looked even worse through my bug-bombed windshield. So much for…


Eyes High: A Simple Mood Lifter

Whenever I lift my eyes toward the sky, my mood improves. I noticed this a long time ago and have always assumed my fondness of that vast expanse above triggered it, an inner kid spellbound by…


Lego Wasteland

Susan and I spent a recent Saturday cleaning out a few closets in dire need of organizing. One of the closets was in the kid’s playroom, which doubles as an auxiliary storage facility for the Lego…


Do It Your Way

Six years ago, three friends and I spent a week paddling fifty miles in canoes on the Green River. The stretch of water winds through the Utah desert and eventually merges with the Colorado River. On…


A Double Life

I have a secret to share: I’ve been leading a double life. For many readers of this blog, I’m Christopher Laney, writer. But there’s another side to me: Chris Laney, businessperson. I’ve always used…


The Write Motivation

If you've ever checked out the other tabs on Lessons from the Cockpit, you may have noticed my writing class titled The Write Motivation. I've taught the class twice a year for three years, but this…


Guest Post at EXTRAordinary! Inc.

This week I have a guest post on EXTRAordinary! Inc., the website of an excellent friend, Rich Schlentz. I first met Rich after he hired my wife as a wellness coordinator for one of the health clubs…


Guest Post on “Lessons from the Monk I Married.”

I'm please to announce my guest post on Katherine Jenkin's blog, "Lessons from the Monk I Married." Katherine spent every single day of 2010 blogging about 365 lessons she had learned or hoped to…


Flawed Beauty: Why You Must Embrace Your Imperfections

Several years ago I drove to a friend’s mountain cabin near West Jefferson for ten days to get my novel jump-started. I’d dabbled with the story for a while, writing a few scenes here and there, but…


Act On Your Dreams

Last Friday morning I flew the Cirrus to Charlottesville, VA to visit a buddy of mine, John Hart. John is an excellent friend and wonderful writer who’s had four books on the New York Times…


Get Uncomfortable

Fitness has been part of my life for a long time. I’ve worked out enough to have a little insight into building muscle. One absolute truth is, muscle doesn’t grow unless you apply resistance. And to…


Live Your Future Now

If you suddenly found yourself with enough money so you no longer had to work, what would you do with your time? When I ask that question to a variety of people, most answers are not exotic. People…


Hope for Humanity

There is a person you are meant to be. You know this because you’ve dreamed of it. Perhaps that person is a painter or a photographer. Maybe it’s an entrepreneur or a scientist. But whatever the…


Life On The Outside

Who knows why most pilots felt the urge to learn to fly? Perhaps some grew tired of staring at cloud bellies and wanted to see their tops. Maybe others vowed to break free of the ground. For me,…


Time Machine Do Over

A week ago Friday I found myself at an urgent care facility with my 8 year-old, Cort. Less than 20 minutes before, we’d been at the ballpark waiting for his older brother to play baseball. To kill…


Find Your Song

I’ve always loved the quote, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” It gets misattributed to Stephen Covey and Wayne Dyer, two…


Spirituality Guest Post

Inspirational speaker and award-winning author Janae Bower co-hosts a blog currently featuring an A-to-Z series on spirituality. This week's letter is "C"—as in Christopher—and Janae has highlighted…


More Stories to Tell

Aviators come from all walks of life with wildly varied personalities. But one thing I’ve noticed is, they all tell great stories. Typically, the longer they’ve been flying, the grander the tales.…


The Downside of Deadlines

In May 2009, I left a high-paying job to write a novel, and I’ve never regretted it one bit. Navigating the traditional publishing route—versus self-publishing—takes vast patience, but I’m up for the…


Wisdom to Know the Difference

There’s an old aviation joke that gets passed down often. It usually surfaces during the required night flight that every student must take during training. Night flights are stressful in a single…


The Most Important Promise

Most people I know try to honor the promises they make to others. And if something prevents them from keeping those promises, they feel bad about it. But there is a certain type of promise that most…


How to Overcome Doubt

Doubt. It’s arguably the single most insidious obstacle that stands between individuals and their dreams. There’s a wind that’s eager to propel us all toward those dreams, yet doubt keeps our sails…


Just . . . Trust

When it comes to chasing our dreams, what are so many of us frightened of? Who made the snide coworker judge and jury? Who made the absent parent, or the fringe friend, or some person we see once a…


With a Little Help from My Friends

A few months ago I wrapped up the fall session of the creative writing class I teach. The last night of class always includes a section that covers momentum and how to maintain it. If publication is…


Universal Perfection

Have you ever had moments when you’ve been struck by an intense clarity, a knowing, that we’re all integral parts of something much bigger than we’ve ever dared imagine? For me, it always occurs when…


Detours

If you read Don’t Look Back, you know I don’t spend much time fretting about the past. I’ve made enough stupid mistakes to fret over—trust me on this—but I try not to get bogged down by them.…


Find Your Mantra

I am reposting the piece I wrote as Lesson 221 for writer Katherine Jenkin's blog, Lessons from the Monk I Married. Hope you enjoy it if you didn't already get a chance to read it on her site: I love…


Make the Most of Every Moment

College has been a hot topic in our house. Two weeks ago, we moved TJ, our oldest, into the freshmen dorm at Elon University. He arrived well before the bulk of students so he could begin his new…


Dare to Soar

Lessons from the Cockpit has a blog exchange this week. Seattle writer Katherine Jenkins wrote the great piece below. Her book, Lessons from the Monk I Married, was recently picked up…


Lift-Off

I want to take a moment to thank all the readers of Lessons from the Cockpit. Without you, there'd be no lift to make the concept fly. Readership has grown significantly since launch in…


The Real Questions Are…

What do you want to do with your life?   What do you really  want to do?   Why aren't you doing it?


What Boosts You?

My youngest son, Cort, didn’t enjoy his first airplane ride. He was four and from the moment we took off, he kept asking when we’d head home. I tried to stifle my disappointment. How could this boy…


Connected for Life

I often speak to groups about networking. People think I have a success secret on it. But I’ll tell you the same thing I tell them: I don’t like networking. If networking…


Notes from the Universe

I have something to share with you. It’s going to sound strange, but here goes: for a couple of years now, I’ve been getting messages from the universe. Really. They always seem to come in the hours…


The Weight of the World

When non-pilots see the plane I fly, they assume it carries a lot. But everything in life, love, and lift is a tradeoff. If I want to take four people on a trip with the baggage compartment maxed, I…


Letting Go – Summer School Final

Ah, Memorial Day Weekend. Although not the official start of summer, the holiday typically heralds its imminent approach. With my favorite season in sight, it’s time to complete our summer…


The Sunny Side

Yesterday I was guest speaker at the Greensboro Optimist Club. I gave a speech based on my Follow the Glow post I wrote for Rick Smith, Author of The Leap. The members were…


Colin Hay – A Man Among Men

My music collection is eclectic. If there is one thing in life I strive to be, it’s well-rounded—of the mind, that is, not the body. My favorite artist in that collection is Colin Hay, but when…


Life & Whatnot

When I started Lessons from the Cockpit last year, my goal was simple: write satisfying stories—I hoped—about lessons I'd learned from either flying my plane or flying through life. But I often want…


From the Ashes – Summer School Part 4

Several months ago I flew the Cirrus to Montgomery Executive Airport at Virginia Tech to visit my wife on a Saturday night. She spent the weekend training the college's group fitness instructors in…


Everyday Magic – Summer School Part 3

When did most of us stop believing in magic? Was it the same time we stopped discovering castles and dolphins in the clouds? Did we come to the conclusion on our own, or was it shouted by a spiteful…


Out of the Cave

​I feel as if I've been hibernating for the last few months. As I stumble out to blue skies and bright sun, I know this: It’s good to be back. I’ve missed posting on the website, but there’s an…


Summer School – Part 2

Second in the summer school lessons series. For part 1, click here. In July of 1990, I had a bad day. The plan called for heels dug into the hot sands of Athens, Greece accompanied by great friends…


Summer School

I miss summer already. Perhaps it’s a holdback from childhood when the last school bell rang and the doors flung wide to spill kids and teens into a June they finally claimed for themselves. School…


Follow the Glow: How to Discover Your Passion in Life

I'm pleased to announce my article Follow the Glow is featured on Rick Smith's website. Rick is the bestselling author of The Leap: How 3 Simple Changes Can Propel Your Career…


The School of Life

There’s no substitute for the school of life. Each of us is enrolled, like it or not. But we should like it. It’s the finest education money can’t buy. Heck, it’s the finest education available even…


Life is Rich

We’ve all heard the maxim, “The best things in life are free.” It’s true. But what about those great things in life that do cost something? I’ve been thinking about, and making a list of, things that…


The Passion for Planes, Paintings, and Pets

Passion. It sparks in radiant arcs when you discover it—or it discovers you. When you possess it, you couldn’t hide its warm glow if you tried. Passion spills beyond the edges of your physical form…


The Space Between Life’s Lessons

Some of you may have noticed a lag between posts recently, which may imply I’m not writing as much. Au contraire. Last week I wrote at least six hours a day, sometimes seven and eight. What am I…


Into the Great Wide Now

Flaps, one notch. Mixture, rich. Sky, clear. Throttle, full. Brakes, released. The plane clings to the ground for an instant, Newton and one of his pesky laws stunts your movement, but soon, another…


You Can’t Soar from a Prison Cell

Imagine for a moment you're confined to a prison cell. It’s not the dark, dank room we’ve grown accustomed to expect from the movies, but is instead comfortable. You’ve decorated it with several…


Airport Angel

Sometimes help not only comes when you least expect it, it can arrive in the most unlikely of forms. At least that was my experience three weeks ago when returning to my home airport of Piedmont…


Cosmic Signposts

We all receive signs. Some of us just don’t notice. People call them different things: signs from the universe or signs from God. Both terms work for me, but the writer inside wanted something more…


Smile and the World Smiles With You

I found myself immersed in a sea of people last week, adrift in the ebb and flow of humanity at O’Hare Airport after I arrived in Chicago. Sometimes it felt as if I was swimming against a current, a…


Make the Leap – Part 2

When a caterpillar emerges from a chrysalis, does it know it has become a butterfly, or does it make a leap of faith from the empty husk? I not sure we’ll ever learn the answer, but I am sure of…


Make the Leap – Part 1

There is something you were meant to do. The fortunate among us know what that something is and are moving toward their goals. But for every person that has the “something” figured out, there are…


Don’t Look Back

Someone once asked me if my airplane had a rear view mirror. While it might be useful for keeping an eye on the kids in the back seats, there’s really no need for one. Most planes don’t have rear…


The Holy Ground of Boeing

For those that read Weather or Not, you know I planned to fly myself to Atlanta for the weekend. The universe apparently had another idea for me since a wicked line of thunderstorms barreled through…


Weather or Not…

I’ve been thinking about the weather lately. This weekend, I’ll fly my plane to Atlanta to join my wife at a fitness event where she's a presenter. When you pilot a small plane, the chances that…


The Sky’s NOT the Limit

There’s a saying that’s common. You’ve probably heard it: The sky’s the limit. It’s said to encourage someone, to inspire him or her to aim as high as possible. The irony is, the saying itself is…


Discover the Hero Within

I’ll let you in on a secret, but don’t laugh. Well…you can laugh, but try not to do it in front of me. Here goes: the reason I learned to fly an airplane was because I’ve wanted to fly like a certain…


Reach Your Dreams: You CAN Get There From Here

One luxury of flying an airplane is you travel straight to your destination. Barring an obstacle along the route, like restricted airspace or an ornery weather system, you can take the shortest…


Find Your Balance to Find Your Wings

Balance is critical in aviation. Flying a plane that has a center of gravity too far forward or aft invites trouble. You can stare at the outside of a plane all day long, but until you peer inside,…


Unexpected Turbulence: Navigating Life’s Jolts

This might come as a shocker, but aviation weather forecasters don’t always get it right. The accuracy level they’ve achieved in recent years is phenomenal, but you can bet there are times when the…


Follow Your Inner Compass: How to Listen to the Voice Inside You

If you ask a pilot how he navigates, how he knows which direction to fly, the acronym GPS will probably appear somewhere in the answer. After all, there are no signs in the sky. I’ll admit, the GPS…


Who Stole the Go Signs?

There are no signs in the sky—well, at least no man made signs. I like this. One of the reasons I relish my time in the air is due to the brief respite from a landscape littered with predominantly…


Sustain or Drain? Minding the Company You Keep

Flying sustains me. When I walk away from my airplane after a flight, I have tremendous energy, and I’m ready to accomplish anything. Life makes sense, the world seems brighter, its colors more…


White-Knuckle Living: How to Succeed by Letting Go

Early in my flight lessons, my instructor called attention to the death-grip I had on the plane’s yoke. Looking down at the white knuckles on my left hand, I realized he was right. I had to laugh.…


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