Looking out of an airplane from the cockpit

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 lifted my eyes from the cockpit's gauges and took in the view. He'd made his point well.

Student pilots tend to become fixated on the plane’s panel early in their training. Ignore the altimeter and you can drop 500 feet and not realize it. Disregard the course indicator and a few degrees off your bearing means 100 miles off your intended destination when traveling long distances.

The gauges are extremely important, but experienced pilots have learned to glance briefly at these instruments so they can focus most of their attention on the world outside the cockpit. Some of that world contains things that can ruin your day. Storm clouds and incoming planes fall into that category.

But most of the world beyond the cockpit is a magical tableaux that makes flying worth the enormous effort required to learn. Student pilots don’t pay hard-earned money to learn to fly because they want to stare at a cluster of instruments. They learn because...

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Green stop sign with the words

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 can’t…” or “Who am I to…”

We try to shrug it off and move forward, but its weight sometimes slows our inertia until one day we aren’t moving forward any more. For some, they stop trying at all. Those people often awaken near the end of their lives to find themselves...


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Stream of water running through a valley

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 probably recognize it because you’ve expended tremendous energy and effort for minimal gain. It feels as if you are swimming upstream.

And that’s what’s happening. You are trying to reach your goals and destination by mainly using logic and manual effort instead of trusting a universal, unseen current that yearns to whisk you on a great adventure. The current knows where it’s going so stop resisting and let it do the hard work.

Will the ride be easy, a gentle river winding the entire way to your ultimate destination? Not at all. You will have to navigate and survive multiple rapids on your journey. Sometimes the current will smash you against massive boulders. You’ll be sore, perhaps a little bloodied, but as those unyielding rocks fade in the distance, your wounds will heal and you’ll be smarter and tougher than before. You may gain newfound abilities to dodge the boulders next time, and if not, at least you’ll remember the pain is temporary.

So what does it feel like to let this invisible current do the hard work? How do you take advantage of it to make life easier? Below are ideas that have worked for me:

-View life as a treasure hunt

Life is littered with precious gems that most people pass over because they don’t recognize them as such. Many of the gems are...


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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 stepped out to clear my head, hoping to escape the weight that crushed me inside. The previous six months had been a nightmare with setbacks and difficulties, small and large, pushing me toward an edge I didn’t want to be anywhere near. 2008 had already been one of the worst years of my life even before the economy started to rip apart at its seams that fall. Seven years before, I’d been jolted awake by 9/11, had made significant life changes by learning to fly and starting to write, but little had changed about my primary career. Years had passed and I was in the exact same spot I’d never wanted to be in the first place, mainly, working for someone else, implementing their vision instead of mine. I didn’t feel in control of my own destiny, and I needed to be in control.

Or so I thought...


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River running through the mountains

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, this is it.

In 2010 I launched a business with two partners, great people whom I trust completely. We’ve grown from only three of us initially to nearly fifty employees. Last week we were named number nineteen of the fifty fastest growing companies in our region. The company has exceeded my expectations in every way, and I feel the best is yet to come.

I share this to highlight the fact that I’m not a passive guy. Anyone who knows me will attest that I don’t sit and wait for things to happen. I look to the sky for lots of things—peace, inspiration, fun—but I’ll never lift my eyes upward with the expectation a financial windfall will float down and land at my feet.

To an outside observer, it may appear that...


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Young child doing a cartwheel outside in the sunshine

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 back, especially the right side that is tight from sitting at a desk too much lately. Over twenty people surround me, all of us mirroring the moves my wife makes from atop the platform at the front of the group exercise room. We are stretching at the end of her weight training class; she tells us to twist a little more if we can.

I glance around the room and an errant thought skims past. It disappears before I grasp its full meaning. Not until I walk past the gym’s yoga studio a day later does it hit me. I back up to...

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statue of a fool jester standing on one foot while balancing something on one finger

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 television. There were many variations on the position, but he was always twisted in some fashion, usually with part of his back resting on the floor and his feet on the cushion where most people plant their backsides.

“What are you doing?” I’d say. “How many times have I told you to sit like a normal person? Get up!”

He’d reluctantly stand and attempt to sit on the couch like a gentleman. But within fifteen minutes—two minutes if I left the room and peeked back in—he’d find his way to the floor again, feet on the cushions

Flash forward. Now I’m experiencing the same behavior with the middle and youngest boys. I look into the family room and they are twisted into the oddest positions on the floor, more like pretzels than humans.

It gets worse.

Whenever my thirteen-year-old does happen to use the furniture, he never...


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goldfish jumping out of the water into a larger bowl

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, whether emotionally, socially, intellectually, or spiritually.

Humans don’t live in aquariums, but many do live strictly within the invisible walls of comfort zones. Some only move beyond them when forced. And like the fish trapped in an aquarium that’s too small, when we operate only within the safety of comfort zones, we stunt our growth. 

I can’t speak for you, but I need to grow. In all aspects of my life. I want to break through any wall that prevents me from exploring this world to the fullest. Growth only occurs outside those walls.

What will you do to move beyond your comfort zone today? Tomorrow? Forever?

I have suggestions:


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Red and white radio tower with half a moon in the distance

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 one bright afternoon, with everything inside destroyed including the radio? Would you be devastated because your favorite station no longer exists?


You may be sad or mad that your car and radio were demolished, but you’d move on. You’d buy another car, maybe a new one with an improved radio. Then you’d tune right back in to your favorite frequency.

Always remember: Your body is the radio. Your soul, your essence, is the frequency. And that frequency is broadcast by a vast, universal “radio tower” that will never cease transmission. Events of the world will eventually demolish the receiver that is your body, but nothing will ever destroy the transmission that is you.

Live on.

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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 half. And I knew we’d sleep comfortably over the weekend if we opened the windows since temperatures still hovered around the mid-sixties at night.

My wife and I have dark curtains in our bedroom. Years ago we’d read that people slept deeper if a bedroom was pitch black, so we’d hung heavy curtains to block the occasional light of a full moon. But on this particular weekend we left the curtains open for better airflow from the outside.

I’m an early riser. Not that it’s natural for me, but because I’d rather

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