Thursday, July 16, 2009

What a difference a year makes

I was having a cup of coffee this morning, doing a little chair-flying for my upcoming checkride, and I got to thinking: what would I have been doing this time last year?

By this time last year, I (and two other highly-qualified friends and colleagues) had been turned down for a promotion so it could be awarded to a highly un-qualified friend of the position's former occupant. (This person, by the way, has gone on to make quite a name for herself on campus: people think she's an idiot).

By this time last year, I had been promised another promotion, only to have it taken away as well because the idea of a reflective, analytical, vocal male leader scared the bejeezus out of the director.

By this time last year, I was miserable. I was just over a semester away from a graduate degree, and it seemed like everyone except the people directly responsible for my career thought I should be going places. But there I was, being supervised, as I confided in some friends, more than most Wal-Mart cashiers.


Fast-forward a year. Since late January, I have progressed through the Instrument rating and on to the Commercial pilot certificate. I have successfully obtained an endorsement to take my initial Certified Flight Instructor checkride, one that must be taken with the FAA, from the "go-to" guy on CFI training. I'm in exclusive, highly-qualified company; I've already earned ratings that less than 1% of the people who have ever lived hold, and my career is on its way to the big show.

I've maintained the respect of those colleagues and peers in the Baylor community that thought I should be "going places," and will always have a place in the academic unit where I served as a graduate assistant last spring. I proved myself as a capable leader, educator, and workhorse.

Why am I writing this blog post full of self-backslapping? You're looking at a guy who has reinvented himself in less than a year. I've gone from what turned into a going-nowhere job to pursuing a dream and a career that I had long ago thought it "more practical" to just give up.

And, I've learned some things along the way:

1. Never underestimate the importance of support. Alisa has been a driving force in this journey; she has more faith in me than anyone I know (including myself), and if it weren't for her prodding, I'd probably still be wishing I could be doing this kind of flying.

My family, full of aviation nuts, never batted an eye at this career change. They're the ones who raised me, and they probably figured this was inevitable anyway. Alisa's family has been incredibly understanding and supportive; they never questioned the changes we made and they've been with me every step of the way during this CFI training.

2. In a related vein, you find out who your friends are. I hate to repeat that cliche, but it's true. People like JT, Brandon, Dave, Anna, Troy, Tim, and Terri have only become closer friends since I left Baylor. Jerome and Blythe, who have "been there, done that," have been a constant source of inspiration. Parker keeps prodding me along, looking for "positive vectoring." Louie and Michelle, who have been through similar circumstances themselves, continue to be great friends and cheer for us.

There are definitely a few specific people who I thought were friends during my Baylor days...but I refer you to sentence number 1 of the above paragraph :).

3. The best thing for confidence in the airplane is currency. I guess the FAA's right about that whole Learning Principle of Exercise thing.

4. Don't ever be intimidated by a certificate or rating. If you can pass the checkride for a Private Pilot License, I guarantee you can figure the rest of this stuff out.

5. Sometimes, it's braver to walk away than to try and stay and "gut it out" or fix something that's spiraling out of control. That ejection handle is there for a reason.

I think I've gone on long enough about this....but I'm sure I'll think of a few more things as soon as I hit the "post" button.

Bottom line: life is full of uncertainty. There's never enough money for what you want to do. And trust me, you're never going to get everyone to like you. Those are all three pretty indisputable facts, but none of them are valid excuses for not doing what you want to do. Say to hell with it, get on with making your life what you want it to be, and the Lord will take care of the details.

"For the Scripture says, you shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain, and the laborer is worthy of his wages."
-1 Timothy 5:18 (NKJ)

1 comment:

  1. Hey man thanks for the shout out in this post! I am so happy for you. Things are going surprisingly well in the office. I can't wait to catch up with you soon. Call me bro!