Monday, June 29, 2009

DC Train Crash takes Great Leader, Great Friend

As a full time speaker and seminar leader for three decades, I’ve worked with many kinds of companies and met many interesting people. Some who said they learned a lot from me but I’d say it was the other way around. Such was the case with one who became a client as well as a close friend. His name was David Wherley.

Our first meeting was at a full-day leadership program I did in Washington, DC for business leaders in the early 90’s. He was a Lt. Col. then. He sat in the front row center. At the lunch break we discovered we had much in common.

He called me a few weeks later and we set up the first of what turned out to be several full day programs I would do over the next few years for the Washington DC Air National Guard.

In late July 2001, my wife accompanied me to Washington where I did two more programs for his squadron. The bonus for me was flying the F-16 with Dave who was then a Major General.

As we lined up on the Andrews AFB runway in that F-16 Viper, off to my left standing in the grass right beside the runway was Tedi, my wife, and her two escort officers. I gave her the double “thumbs up” sign from the cockpit and then BOOM! We were headed into the blue––fast!

He let me fly it through the sound barrier and do aerobatics. He asked if the supersonic Voodoo that I flew over 1,000 times could fly vertical. I said “Almost.” He said, “Watch this.” He brought the nose straight up and lit the afterburner. We were gaining airspeed going straight up! What a memorable day.

Six weeks later the terrorists hit the Pentagon. Within minutes Dave “scrambled” his F-16 squadron into the skies above Washington with a “free fire” order.

Last Monday, June 22, David and his wife, Ann, boarded the train for Walter Reed hospital to visit a former squadron member who had been seriously wounded in Iraq. It was something they often did after David retired.

This past Tuesday morning I heard on Fox News that he and Ann had been killed in the DC train crash. After what he had lived through––to die that way! But Ann was with him. She was always behind him supporting him in his many accomplishments.

Sitting out in our garden the next day, I thought Dave should make one more high speed pass down the Andrews runway. In my mind, Tedi and I were standing next to the runway where she had stood during the take off in July 2001, In this fantasy flight I could see that F-16 getting closer by the second.
Over the end of the runway David pulled up into vertical flight. The burner was lit and he was picking up speed doing vertical rolls as he went out of sight in the bright blue sky.

The “Big Controller in the Sky” cleared them for landing and of course Dave “greased” it in. After parking, he stood up in the seat and extended his hand out to help his “backseater” out. Ann who was always behind him flashed him a smile and a double thumbs up. She took his hand and said, “David it’s been quite a ride.”

David, my friend, this poem is for you. It was written by Navy Captain Jerry Coffee while a POW for seven years in Hanoi.

We’re gently caught by God’s own hand to reign with Him on high;
To dwell among the soaring clouds we knew so well before –
From victory roll to tailchase – at Heaven’s very door
And as we fly among them there, we sadly hear their plea,
“Take care my friend, and check your six. Do one more roll for me.”

Monday, June 15, 2009

Thoughts on "Repeating Yesterday"

Stagnation of personal growth is caused by “Monday times 5”

Thoughts on "Repeating Yesterday"
Danny Cox

Repeating yesterday re-enforces self imposed barriers. It puts a lid on undeveloped potential.

You're losing ground when you repeat yesterday and the world doesn't.

Repeating yesterday is surrendering the leadership of your life to mere day-by-day tasks.

The habit of repeating yesterday is the result of goal orientation, a negative goal orientation, but still a goal orientation.

Repeating yesterday runs your battery down.

If you have no new goals you are repeating yesterday.

If you continue to repeat yesterday the high point of your life is already behind you.

Repeating yesterday centers on reaction not action.

If you have trouble getting up in the morning you are repeating yesterday.

Repeating yesterday causes psycho sclerosis –hardening of the mind.

A small success can paralyze a person into a long string of repeated yesterdays.

Repeating yesterday is deciding not to delve further into the storehouse of potential that is available.

Stagnated leadership can send a company "hell bent for leather" down the road marked "Return to Yesterday."

If you're repeating yesterday you've fallen in love with false security and out of love with your undeveloped potential. And like an old love it hurts to remember what could have been.

Repeating yesterday becomes hypnotic. It's motion versus direction.

Repeating yesterday is freezing at one rung of life's ladder.

Repeating yesterday is continuing to do what you know doesn't work.

Repeating yesterday makes you a rejecter of information and knowledge rather than a gatherer.

Repeating yesterday freezes you at your current level of competence.

When you give up repeating yesterday, it great to know that you’re best is yet to be.

Point to Ponder: Make a vow to never wake up some day to find yourself master of the mediocre, best of the bottom, average of the average, “leader” of the lukewarm, “champion” of the contented, “king” of the crumbs, “lance corporal” of the leftovers and “almighty” of the almost.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Good Things That Come Out of a Crisis

"With the help of the thorn in my foot, I can spring higher than anyone with sound feet."

If you’re waiting for a defining moment in your life, the current economic conditions could be it. Look at the six benefits of a crisis and the things you can do to make them part of your action plan.

1. New superstars rise in times of crisis.
Circumstances have rarely favored the great. Luxury and ease is not a formula for impressive high achievement. They know that accomplishment is their birthright but limitations are adopted.

These new super stars have discovered that you can have a new start at any moment you choose. This sudden change of direction, this breaking from status quo, is often followed by a higher level of productivity.

Point to Ponder:
"Adversity sometimes strips a person only to discover the person. " O.S. Marden

2. Unresolved problems are clearly identified and a strong commitment is made to find the solution.
These rising superstars ask themselves these three questions: What’s my biggest unresolved problem? What am I doing about it? If I’m not doing anything about it why am I not doing anything about it?

Then they prioritize the problems and go to work on #1. The temptation is to start with #5 because 1 through 4 are hard!

Point to Ponder: A life without risk is like a steak without seasoning; the essentials are there but where is the flavor?

3. Corrective action is accelerated.
"Do the dangerous things fast." General George S. Patton

Fear paralyzes progress. Courage accelerates it. Sometimes the only thing you can do is pull the trigger and ride the bullet. It’s a matter of gritting your teeth and going for it. A good example of this was a few centuries ago, when the Spartans didn’t ask how many of the enemy there were but only their location. Attitude is more important than fact, said Dr. Karl Menninger.

W. C. Fields put it more colorfully. He said, “There comes a time when you must take the bull by the tail and face the situation.”

Point to Ponder: “To make ends meet, start by getting off yours.” Dr. Ken McFarland

4. Self confidence grows.
“You can’t turn back the clock but you can wind it up again.”

Self confidence indicates reserve power. There’s iron in you and you conquer by continuing, not quitting. Positive anticipation becomes energy. Fear becomes procrastination. With every conflict overcome, strength is gained.

Point to Ponder: Never let yesterday use up today.

5. New techniques are developed.
Out of crisis comes creativity. Aim for striking originality. It gets attention. Be unorthodox. Step out of the crowd!

Put your grey cells in high gear and push the pedal to the metal. As one humorous pundit put it, “Think or swim!”

When you get a “hunch” in this process, that’s creativity trying to tell you something. How can the right idea be identified? It explodes in your mind!

Point to Ponder: “Don’t be just a problem solver. Be a problem finder.” Stew Leonard

6. Team members were inspired by victories of others and as a result team spirit, camaraderie and synergy increases.

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison held 1093 patients. That’s a new patent every 10 days of his adult life.

In his laboratory there was a sign on the wall saying, “There aren’t any rules around here. We’re trying to accomplish something.” His workers loved him and would work long hours into the night because of it. Edison called them the “Insomnia Squad.” When they had a breakthrough experience, they would celebrate by singing while Edison played the organ he had installed in the laboratory.

When the team came up with a new invention, Edison would say, “There’s always a better way to do it. Find it.” So the new invention became a re-fined new product.

After Edison’s death, Henry Ford had his entire laboratory sent to Greenfield Village in Dearborn. It was very interesting that he had the trash pile transported too. Why? Ford wanted people to see how much Edison had to throw away before he had success.

Point to Ponder: “I never did a days work in my life. It was all fun. “ Thomas Edison

The best is yet to be!