Flying solo can be a frightening experience, especially when you first start out. However, along the way, you may pick up wisdom that not only helps you in the air, but can keep you firmly planted back on the ground.
The turbulence shook the plane I was in to a dramatic effect. I looked over at my fellow passenger, white knuckles appearing as he held on to the armrests with a claw like grip.
He gave me a sheepish look, “I don’t really like flying. How are you so calm?”
I gave him a sympathetic smile. “I fly planes. They’re all put through testing more rigorous than anything you’ll ever actually encounter in the air.” My calm demeanor seemed to relieve him, and, luckily, the remainder of the flight was smooth sailing.
My interest in flying began in my early 20’s. Who wouldn’t want to be a pilot after seeing Top Gun? After a bit of research, I discovered most anyone could go to a flight school and take lessons and, if the requirements were met, fly a plane. When I enthusiastically told my parents about my plans over a family dinner, my excitement was met with concern. My joy turned to guilt.
“But you’re afraid of heights!” my mother burst out.
This is 100% true. Put me on a balcony or overlooking a steep drop, and I can feel myself becoming dizzy. It wasn’t like that in a plane though. You were being propelled forward. Even landing feels different than falling. And if you’re the one piloting the plane, it gives you a sense of control, power even.
Their concern never really went away. I could see they were hoping my interest would wane, but it didn’t.
Flight school started like most classes. You’re planted firmly on the ground. You listen to lectures, read textbooks, take notes. The difference was how fascinating the material was and how practical it soon would become. Before long, I was in the air with an instructor. Then came a particularly memorable day.
The beginning of the lesson wasn’t too different than the ones of the past. I was feeling pretty confident. Believing the lesson was over, I followed my instructor’s direction to land.
“The next step,” he began “is to taxi to the tower.” I did so. He opened the door and walked off the plane!
“Now what you’re going to do is take off and land three times.”
I gave the most eloquent response I could think of in the moment, “...Okay.”
The door closed again, and I was in the plane about to take my first solo flight.
My confidence seemed to have followed my instructor out the door and off the plane. This was frightening. I tried to get a hold of myself. I realized the important thing, in that moment, was not to freak out. The only thing that had actually changed was that my safety net was gone. I focused all that nervous energy into excitement. I was an expert at the controls. This should be no different. I took off and landed once, twice, three times with only a momentary wobble. It felt amazing.
Flying taught me lessons for my general well being and even good business sense. The biggest lesson I learned was the importance of planning and preparation. A flight plan is filed for every flight, ensuring that the trip will go smoothly. The same care should be taken with every job. The other was a lesson I began to learn on that first solo flight—the importance of keeping a level head. Sometimes, even the most carefully thought out plans are met with unexpected obstacles. By remaining calm, not being overcome by an emotional reaction, and taking time to think through a challenging situation, a positive outcome can almost always be reached. I’ve taken these lessons into my business with me, and I never worry that a moment of turbulence will ruin a great flight.
Throughout my life, I’ve been taught that success comes from hard work. My diligent mother, entrepreneurial father, and driven sisters became role models for me to follow. They showed me how individuals could make an impact in a business. But helping my father put together materials to sell, my sister and I discovering the best routes to deliver them, and my wife and I parenting our children as a unit, showed me the importance of having a strong team behind you. My work as a general contractor has shown me what a collaborative experience the business really is. I’m in the position to find the best team members, builders, designers, and architects. I believe honesty and transparency are the pillars to a productive working relationship, and I provide every one of my clients with both. My goal has always been, and continues to be, building a beautiful San Diego, one project at a time.
CSLB License #1017731