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  • Writer's pictureJonny Nelson

2 Lessons from the Cockpit of an Acrobatic Stunt Plane

2 Lessons from the Cockpit of an Acrobatic Stunt Plane

We pushed the plane out of the hanger, strapped on a parachute and then a five point harness over that. Within minutes we were 3000 feet in the air cruising along at 110 mph. It didn’t feel that fast until he stalled the plane and we dropped nose first spiraling towards the earth. My friend and mentor Tony was giving me a tour of some acrobatic flying stunts in his Super Decathlon airplane. He pulled us out of the simulated dive and took us back up for a few barrel rolls, loops and more G-forces than 99% of the roller coasters in the world. In our hour together in the air I was reminded of two principles for effective life and leadership:

1) Keep an eye on the horizon. When you’re in the air flipping or flying through a cloud, pilots can succumb to Spatial Disorientation. Basically your body looses the ability to determine between up and down. If a pilot loses orientation, the plan could end up in a dive and crash. It happens more often than you think! So to counteract this, it is important to use the horizon as a visual guide. In life and leadership its the same way. We may be flying super fast, feel good and then suddenly were crashing. It is critical to maintain your vision. Where are you headed? What is your ideal picture of the future?

2) Get a different perspective. As we flew up the Minnesota River back to the airport we were looking at the earth from a perspective that most don’t get the opportunity to see. We had a birds-eye view looking down into the forest, seeing crazy S bends in the river, even massive hills and changes in elevation look drastically different from above. It was pretty amazing and gave me a new appreciation for creation. At 3000 feet up in the air, looking down at the earth it felt like we were hardly moving and yet we were going 110 miles per hour. It’s important to get a different perspective on things and look from a different angle. Do you have an incredible new opportunity coming up? Maybe its a problem or struggle that your facing? Try to break out of your viewpoint, back up or move closer, and look at it from a different angle.

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