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Takeoffs are Optional…..Landings are Mandatory

I heard this so many times from my father as a child. If I was struggling to make a decision, he would quote this to me. At first, I wasn’t sure what he meant. But I later came to find that these words would help me in life with every decision I had before me. In other words, think it through first. Once you commit to the decision you will then accept the responsibilities that go with it. My father would guide me in issues and circumstances, but he would never make the deciding vote. He would allow me the freedom to choose. Sometimes my decisions did not to turn out exactly as I had planned. Or hoped. Sometimes they were a disaster. But they were my disasters, mine to claim, mine to rectify. I could sit and evaluate what had lead me to the decision and also come up with the remedy. My father always told me the mark of a good pilot is not to concentrate on what he did wrong, but to recognize it, evaluate it and make alterations in the future and most importantly, repeat the ones he did right.

It was the same for my successes. I alone could take credit for them. Again, they were mine to claim. If my father were to make the final decision, the success would rightly go to him. But if I did that, I relinquished my freedoms and liberties to him. He taught me that in and by itself, was a recipe for disaster. Allowing someone else to make your decisions is giving up all that is yours. You may not have to accept the bad that comes out of it, but you are more so denying yourself the joy of the success. What an unfulfilling, life existence that would be. He wouldn’t take my math test for me. If he did and got an A+, that would be his, not mine. That certainly would not help me when it came time to figure out my income as opposed to bills. I would need those math skills.

I believe our parents responsibility is to help shape, and guide us, but not to live our lives according to their doctrine. My parents wanted me to be the best me I could be. They would provide me the tools, the encouragement, the morals and values, and sometimes the means, but after that, I was on my own. The feeling of freedom was there. They of course tried to shield me from any major harm, but they did not shield me from all sadness or disappointment. These were valuable lessons. These would prepare me for the greater sadnesses and disappointments that I would surely encounter in life. A broken heart, a job I didn’t secure, a job I was fired from, the betrayal of friend. So many experiences that were headed my way. I would need these experiences and the tools to deal with them.

I remember the very first time I got fired. I was mortified, I felt so ashamed of myself. My fathers words were outstanding. The first thing he said was, congrats on taking a try on it, the second was, he said this just means they gave up before you did. (Tenacity proving to be a very helpful tool.) But the one thing that really stuck with me was this. He said you can’t view this as a failure. The lessons you learn from this are the success. They will be the tools that help you next time. We are all going to fail at something during the course of our life. It is what we do with lessons of them that are our success story. And if we are good pilots, we will also have a Plan B If Plan A turns out not so good.

I myself am not a parent. I have not been blessed in that aspect of life. But to quote my mother, parenting is not a perfected science. ( I guess we all get the learning curve ). But if I were talking to a parent I would tell them this . Let your children fail sometimes, let them make mistakes on their own. Be there to help them through it, but don’t do it for them. Firstly, you will not always be there to do that, but more importantly you will be claiming what should rightfully be theirs. I would tell you, do not try to plow all obstacles out of the way, don’t engage in a futile attempt to have them fly sunny skies all the time. Let them feel some turbulence. Let them right the plane. You will be providing them the experience of soaring on their own and the exhilaration that comes with it. They may snap roll, crash and burn, but they will get back in the cockpit and try it again.

Give your children the freedom and liberty to think and act for themselves. They will be more confident, they will be more successful they will be better equipped to not only help themselves, but to also help others. Let them soar, let them glide, let them feel the freedom. Don’t insist on control. Give them the option to take off, the mandatory landing will probably be much softer, especially if they have learned to depend on themselves for that landing. And to children I would say this. Don’t give away your freedoms and liberties. Don’t relinquish control. Keep an eye on the horizon, look at the altimeter, pull back on throttle when you need to and push forward when required. It’s your aircraft, be in control of it.

It is the same with our country. It is ours, our freedoms and liberties were set forth by our fore fathers. Do not relinquish control. They gave us the tools. We the people are in the cockpit. Lets hope we straighten up and fly right.

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