Day Two: Disaster

Well, that didn’t work.  Day 2 of my fast was going along smoothly until it felt like my body hit a brick wall.  After 42 hours of fasting I threw in the towel.  Nearly instantaneously after I finished a light meal, my body felt back at 100% as if I’d never been fasting at all.  This told me one thing only, and that is what I was feeling during the fast was more psychological than physiological.  So, today I’m getting back on the horse after a 4- day normal eating cycle and attempting another 3-day fast.  Hopefully this round goes better.

Day 1: No food.

This is it. The start of a 3 day fast. I imagine day 1 will be uneventful, as I have be IFing (intermittent fasting) for the past year. NBD.  No big deal. But day 2 will be not so good.  The next post will be after day two expires sans food.  I have some tricks to get by, but we’ll see if they work beyond day 2.  I am calculating I will lose 10 lbs, mostly water weight, in the next 3 days. As of today, I weigh 149 lbs.  See you tomorrow.

Hey! You’re doing it wrong…

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “failure”?

Do you cringe?  Do you see yourself bombing a major exam in school? or getting caught doing something wrong? or causing an accident in traffic?  or putting someone’s life in danger?

Here’s a news flash.  Everyone fails from time to time, but they themselves are not failures.  Failure is an event, an occurrence, a happening, and NOT a person.  We do as a society tend to use the word “failure” for folks who make bad choices in life, like using illegal substances or robbing a convenient store, etc.  Losers, right? But these people have the ability and choice to turn their lives around.  No matter what age, background, status, you have the option to set goals and work towards achieving them.

Don’t give up on yourself or others.  It would be easy to settle for less in Life.  To just throw in the towel and give up.  But this Life was meant to be tough.  A lump of coal is nothing until it is put under immense pressure and stress over time to become a beautiful gem.

Most of us have one thing or skill we are really good at.  I bet if you were to sit down and ponder, you would find at least 3-5 things or skills you are somewhat good at.  This is a hint to which path you should be on in Life’s journey.

Failure equals learning.  Keep track of your mistakes, learn from them, then move on.  Keep it simple.

Keep your eye on the prize and realize that each failure and set back is a step towards that goal.  Keep your goals big, so that even in the trenches of your failings you can still look up and see where it is that you are going.

Do not be afraid to ask for help.

I have learned a good word to get back up on you feet after a failure from former Navy SEAL Jocko Willink. That word is “Good”.

Didn’t get that job offer? Good.
Go after the next interview.

Didn’t get that promotion? Good.
More time to get better and learn for the next promotion window.

Failed at your business? Good.
Figure out what went wrong. Learn from it and start over.

You failed at your mission objective? Good. Find the lessons learned, teach your fellow teammates, then move on.

Bottom line. If your are still breathing, it means you still have some Life left in you. So get up, dust off, reload, recalibrate, reENGAGE, and go back out on the attack.


A how to post: getting your pilot’s license

A lot of people have asked me how I got started in flying. So I figured why not write about how to get your pilots license.

For me, I was very fortunate to have grown up with an Uncle that owned an FBO(Fixed Base Operation) , a place to rent civilian airplanes, starting when I was 6 years old. My very first flight (at age 6) I knew this was something that I had to do for the rest of my life. I had caught the “flying bug”.

So I grew up around airplanes practically all of my childhood. I worked at my Uncle’s business during the summers to pay for my lessons starting around 14 years old. I started taking official lessons when I was 11, but by that age I probably had a couple hundred hours of flight time non-recorded in a logbook. Also at that age I had trouble reaching the rudder pedals, so I didn’t really get into flight lessons until around 13 years old. I literally had to grow into the airplane. (In my case, a Piper Tomahawk)

I flew my first solo at 17 years old and received my license at 21. I had a lot of breaks in training during my time getting my license, basically because I was paying as I went along, but realistically you can earn your license in about 2-4 months if you make a plan.

Up front do this:
Come up with a plan to get your license.
Get an orientation flight.
Get your flight physical done. (you need this to fly solo)
Investigate which schoolhouse and instructor is best for you. Find an Instructor that matches your personality.
Buy block time to get a discount.
Keep your “breaks in training” to a minimum.
Treat every flight as a checkride.
Go to ground school and study for your oral/written test.
Act like a pilot during your FAA checkride. (because in my book, you already are at this point.)
Enjoy the notion of being a pilot.

Here is some more pertinent pilot info.

Proper lingo:
As a pilot, I can instantly tell if the person I’m speaking with is also a pilot, just by the terminology we use. Mind you, even if you are only a student pilot, in my book, you ARE a pilot.

Use the term Charts, not Maps. Maps are what non-pilots use to get to the grocery.
Your instruments are not on a dashboard, but the panel or under the glare shield.
The definition of a “stall” is this and only this: when you exceed the critical angle of attack. Keep it simple.
When you make a smooth landing, it is called “greasing it in”.
Before you start the engine in a piston aircraft, yell at the top of your lungs one of these 3 things, CONTACT, CLEAR, or CLEAR PROP! Then wait 3-5 seconds before turning the ignition.
Yes, airplanes do have keys, and they are used to switch different magnetos. Fighter jets do not have keys, and yes, anyone with the proper knowledge could start one…easily.
Learn the phonetic alphabet. It is easy and you will use all the time on the radio.
Practice your radio calls. Remember this, every time you key the mic, you will say, who you are, where you are, and what you want to do. Example: Tomahawk 90K, 10 miles west of Little Rock, request touch and go runway 18, option.
“Option” means that you would like to have the option to do another touch and go, leave the airfield and go back to the airspace, go back to RADAR pattern, or come back for a full stop landing.
If you have any other questions, please let me know. I will update this post in the future as necessary. Please ask me questions, as this is one of the most important things in my life, after my wife and kids.

Start preparing now for Life on the “Outside”

It literally is never too early to start preparing for your life in the civilian world.

Start building a game plan of what, when, where, why and how of getting out of the military and successfully into the civilian side of the house.

Start networking today.  Build your connections to potential sources of employment.  Seriously, stop what you are doing right now and create a LinkedIn profile and connect with your coworkers and classmates now.  It takes all of 15 minutes to do.

Listen and ask those who have gone before you.  If they are like me they will be MORE than happy to share their experience of leaving the Military with you.  There is a huge exhilaration of cutting the “military umbilical cord” and setting out on your own.  You can literally feel the huge weight of stress lift from your shoulders.

Build Plan A, then plan B, C, D and so forth.  You should have at least 2-3 backup plans before you take the leap.  Would you jump out of an airplane with just your main chute and no reserve?

These plans should be your goals of what you want to do/become when you leave the miltary.  Second, your backup plan if your first plan is not accessible.  And your plan if your backup plan is not an option.  Basically, the idea is not to give up if your first plan is not successful.  Remember to keep moving forward until your reach your primary goal.

Keep an open eye and ear on the next opportunity.  Seredipity will come when least expected.  Luck is preparation meeting opportunity.  Don’t slack off and never give up.  If you need a shot of confidence and boost in motivation, please, for the love of God, send me an email and I will do what I can to pick you back up.

With that said, I just heard in the news today that Veteran unemployment has been at all time low recently, which is fantastic news!  Let’s keep the trend going and reduce that number to zero!

Ditch the Tank Top and Mullet.

We’ve all heard the phrase “Dress for success”.

And , yes, you are being judged by how you dress for an interview.

First thing.  Buy a nice suit or dress ( for the ladies) that is tailored to your body.  A fitted suit will make you look more professional and better looking and not like Chris Farley in Tommy Boy with the fat guy in a little coat scene.  Do not try to fit into an old suit from your high school prom.  Do not buy your suit from Good Will.  Do not wear your father’s hand me down suit.  Tuxedo t-shirts…way off. You can find some really nice looking suits at the Base Exchange which are usually marked down from their actual price if you were to buy off base.

Next, wear a white dress shirt with long sleeves.  No short sleeves, even in the summer!  You should be able to see a little portion of the cuff while wearing the suit jacket.

Shoes, should be black or brown, and polished, but not necessarily spit shined.  No Chuck Taylor’s or tennis shoes, as this only works on TV and movies.  And maybe for Tech companies like FB or Google, but they are the exception and not the norm.

Make sure you get a nice hair cut and are clean shaven.  Unfortunately the fu man chu look with huge hamhock sideburns complete with a full grown mullet will scream louder than the words coming out of your mouth.  Sorry Joe Dirt.

Refrain from eating that oven roasted garlic stuffed garlic or anything spicy the night before for obvious reasons.  You definitely do not want an unexpected “Code Brown” in the middle of your interview.

Do a dress rehearsal the night before and have your spouse or significant other give you a once over to let you know of any major wardrobe malfunctions or flaws in your attire or overall fashion sense.  For the guys this is crucial.  Ladies are way mo better in this area and their opinions are worth a hefty cent.  Take heed.

And good luck!

If your have your own suggestions, please leave a comment.  The more the merrier.


10 Tips to Staying Positive in a Negative World

The last thing you need while searching for your next job is negativity.  The following are my  recommendations:

Drop any source of news feed during your time searching, as most of it tends to be negative.  If I want to hear about the latest and greatest, I’ll ask one of my family members or friends.  In today’s times we are overloaded with information constantly and it’s usually negative.  Take control of what is force fed to us 24/7.

Ditch/limit interactions with Negative Nancy’s and Debbie Downers,  hang out with others who are optimistic and supportive of your goals.  Jim Rohn said that we are a product of the 5 people we hang around most.  Choose to spend your time with those who will cheer you on during your job search, and encourage you to keep moving forward.

Read or listen to motivational and inspirational material first thing in the morning for 30-60 minutes.  Get your day started right by feeding your mind with “nutritious” information.  Or if you like to watch motivational content, check out the TED website or go to iTunes and download TED talk episodes for free.

Exercise and stretch, preferably in the morning.  Keep a record of your progress.  Peter Drucker says, “What gets measured gets managed.”  Stepping on the scale every morning will quickly tell you if you should hit the crispy cream or not.

Mindfulness meditation.  Check out Tara Brach’s podcast and learn to quiet your mind for 10 minutes a day for starters.  Don’t knock it until you try it.  You’ll be amazed at how many thoughts run through your mind in that short amount of time.

Define your goal(s) and build a game plan to achieve them.  Failure to plan is planning to fail.  Put your goals down on paper and look at it.  Subconsciuosly this sets the ball rolling to achieving your goals.

Remember to start with happiness then set forth to achieving success, not the other way around.  So many folks have the wrong mindset of, if I become successful I’ll be happy.  But find themselves disappointed when it doesn’t come true.  Happiness is a choice that you can select right now.

Write down your biggest fears on paper and the worst that could possibly happen if they were to come true.

Experiment with different types of diets/meals/fasting and record how you feel and when you feel at your peak level of performance.  Slow carb or low carb is a good starter.

Get plenty of sleep. Keep a record of how much sleep you get a night.  You might be surprised at how little you are actually sleeping.

Pay it forward everyday.

Try 21 days of not complaining.  You will surprise yourself by how much you complain in one hour, let alone one day or one week.

Write down or recall 3 things your are grateful for everyday.  It is damn near impossible to be angry or sad when you count your blessings.

Let me know if you have other “hacks” to staying positive in the comments.  Word.

Know Thyself Before You Wreck Thyself

“So tell us a little bit about yourself.”

Pause.  What in the world do I say that sounds good?

Probably not what you want to be asking yourself during an interview.  This question WILL come up in every interview, so why not practice out loud a good self intro beforehand.  Write down a small paragraph of who you are in about 2-3 sentences.

The first sentence should include your full name, where you are from originally, and your current/past job title and/or experience.

So for example it would go like this:

“Hello, my name is ________, from XYZ, and I have just completed XX years of Honorable Service in the US Air Force as a _______.” 

The next sentence should include several of your strengths, for example:

“Several of my strengths include extensive team building skills, solid leadership experience in high stress environments, and adaptability in ever changing situations.”

The final sentence should include the reason why your are there in the interview, so something like this would be acceptable:

“Today I am very excited to be here interviewing with XX Company for the role of ______ and eager to answer any questions about my work history and future goals.”

Once you have something down on paper that sounds good, practice it until it is memorized and sounds natural, not scripted.  Also practice in front of family or friends to create some added stress comparable to a real interview.  Another technique you can use is to practice in front of a mirror.  You can practice your smile so it doesn’t look forced, which is VERY noticeable when it is not a sincere smile.  I recommend using a slight smile or grin when speaking as to look approachable and genuinely happy versus looking too happy or perhaps a little creepy.

Good luck and Godspeed.  We’re all counting on you.

Never Pass Up an Opportunity to Shut the Hell Up

A very common maxim in the Fighter Pilot community and one that has other iterations in a bit more colorful language.

Not only will this advice keep you out of trouble as a newbie in a Fighter Squadron, but works really well in business as well.  You can gain a lot of knowledge and insight from your instructors by just shutting your lip and listening, absorbing.  The same is true when meeting with customers, clients or prospects.

Take the time and effort to actively listen to others you do business with or work for.  Some of the best salesmen are the ones that let the customer do the most talking.  They find their need or “pain”.

In your next client meeting, see how long you can actively listen before going in to your pitch.  Keep your questions open ended and really get the person talking deeply engaged.  Find out their interests, likes, dislikes, hobbies, and family before your start your sell.  Things seem to go a lot smoother and it is way easier to build rapport.

Build a Strong Foundation Starting Now

Neuschwanstein CastleWhen I left the Air Force there was a noticeable difference in the amount of free time I now had to do other things…like reading.  I just wish I had MADE time to read when I was on Active Duty.

Build yourself a solid foundation through reading if you are not actively doing so now.  If I could go back to my 20 year old self and give myself just one piece of advice it would be to start reading and read as much as you can.

Brian Tracy said something in one of his training tapes that struck a chord with me, and that was (paraphrasing) our base of knowledge and storage of that knowledge has a small leak and if we don’t keep feeding our minds with nutritious information then we will slowly become “malnourished”.

Since that time I have had this insatiable thirst for knowledge and reading just about anything I can that interests me but also that which is relevant to my current job or anything that is related to self improvement, financial intelligence, emotional intelligence, motivation, and meta-learning.

One of the first books that got me hooked on reading was “Psycho-cybernetics” by Maxwell Maltz.  It also was the book that got me into self improvement, getting past mental barriers, and continuous learning.  Another great book that motivated me in to becoming more successful and starting this blog was “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill.  Recently I got done reading another great book of his called, “Outwitting the Devil”, that has been truly influential.

If you are already a reader and looking for good books there are lists at Tim Ferriss’ and Steve Pavlina’s websites that have been very helpful.  Ryan Holiday and Maria Popova also have great websites and book reviews as well.

What I have noticed since I started reading on a consistent basis are the following:

Increased confidence at work

Increased motivation and inspiration

More creativity and ideas

Increased vocabulary

Decrease in what feels like addiction to TV and Internet

Less worry and anxiety about the future

Increase in memory and recall ability, and less forgetfulness

Another added benefit to reading and what I have noticed lately is the ability to debate and resolve conflicts or arguments at work or home. You tend to be able to have the last word more often than not after quoting books and authors who are experts on the topics being discussed.  And even if you do not win the argument or debate, you have at least been able to express your thoughts and ideas in a clear and concise way which I think is always a win.

Try reading one book a month at first and gradually increase from there after 6 months to a year in books that interest you.  Sometimes you finish a book that was so good, that you re-read it or immediately start a new one on the same topic.  A good technique to finding other great books on the same topic came from Maria Popova who suggested looking in the bibliography of the books that had the most impact on you.

Let me know what books have had a great impact on you and have been life changing in the comments.  I would like to have this post be a great place to find books/authors for future reading.

Lastly, have fun and enjoy the journey!

Links and blogs mentioned:

Many thanks and appreciation to those who spread their knowledge and findings from reading to others!

If you enjoyed this post please leave a comment.  If you have something to add please leave a comment.