I was speaking with a Canadian friend and colleague Noah Fleming yesterday. We talked about a conversation he had with his mentor where his mentor said “the vast majority of the people I work with are sitting on the runway of their personal and professional lives with their engines revving and their foot firmly planted on the brake. The only thing inhibiting them from taking off is their unwillingness to release the brake.”
Why would someone be unwilling to take their foot off the brake in either their personal and professional life? The number one reason is fear. Whether it is fear of failure or fear of success, the reason we stay parked on the runway burning fuel is because we’re afraid of something.
Flying analogies hit home with me because I’m oftentimes afraid to fly. When I was eight years old I was on a transcontinental flight that hit an air pocket and dropped 3000 feet. This was in 1968 and the rules regarding having your seatbelt tightly fastened were considerably less fanatical than today. It happened in the middle of the dinner service with the heavy meal carts loaded with real glass and cutlery.
When we hit the air pocket the carts left the floor and came down on the arms and legs of passengers and created a significant emergency situation. I remember the pilot asking for passengers with medical training to step in and triage the injured passengers. When we arrived in Canada non-injured passengers remained in their seats while injured passengers were removed on stretchers. At eight years old having emergency personal rush onto my airplane left me less than excited about flying again. And while the air pocket I experienced only lasted five to seven seconds in real time, it has lasted forty-five years in my memory.
There are areas of my life where I have to own up to the fact that I am on the runway revving my engines with my foot firmly planted on the brakes. Ask me about my book idea; ask me about exercising every week; ask me about making a difference in my community. Can you hear the engines roaring?
After talking with Noah I’m reminded of five things that I hope might be as beneficial for you as they are for me:
1. I’ve been cleared for takeoff…there is no one responsible for my perpetual holding pattern other than myself.
2. It takes courage to release the brakes…but the view from 40,000 feet is spectacular.
3. Living in fear is a draining way to live life…living with faith is uplifting and empowering.
4. Yes, I’ll burn fuel to get to my cruising altitude…but once I get there I can throttle back.
5. If I don’t leave where I am I can’t ever arrive where I want to go.
Questions for you:
1. What is the one destination you really want to visit, experience or explore?
2. What are three reasons why you haven’t taken off for your destination?
3. What are three reasons why you should take your foot off the brake?
4. Are you willing to exert the energy, power and fuel to get to your cruising altitude?
How do you answer these questions? How would your team and or organization?