Flying Solo With 7 Simple Words

I flew an airplane solo for the first time on my 16th birthday.

Over the past 10 months I had taken many flying lessons. As a student pilot, my goal was to solo on my birthday. I flew each of the two days prior to my birthday on July 16th.

Those were not good days.

— One Day Earlier —

July 15th, 1989: As I bounced the plane down the runway seeking a smooth landing, my flight instructor grimaced and groaned from being jolted about in the small cockpit. “Mike Alpha,” our resilient single-engine Piper Warrior airplane, endured the beating in silence. Just part of the process of teaching teenagers how to fly.

With only a few hours remaining to reach my goal of soloing, my flight instructor’s 7 simple words echoed through my mind:

“Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.”

I knew that I had not planned properly for these flights. My landings were proof.

So I gathered my thoughts, reviewed my books, visualized myself landing smoothly, and experienced flying solo in my mind. I heard the roar of the engine, felt the plane lift off the ground, and sank into the pilot’s seat as I made the left hand turn in the pattern. Every landing I made was textbook.

Now if I could just do in real life what I could do in my mind…

July 16th, 1989: Friday morning everything changed. The day was beautifully clear with no wind.

After two touch-and-go landings that could have been used for training videos, my flight instructor had me taxi off the runway and stop. He looked at me and said 7 simple words that I’ll remember till the day I die:

“I think I’ll sit this one out.”

Adrenaline, excitement, and fear rushed through my body. As he stepped out of the plane and closed the door, I was, for the first time, all alone and in full control of Mike Alpha. The time had come.

The flight was memorable, as was the post-flight custom of writing the date on the back of my shirt, then cutting it off my back to be framed.

On my 16th birthday, I achieved my goal by remembering 7 simple words.

We all have goals we’re striving to achieve. So you too can adhere to the advice of my flight instructor: remember that Proper Prior Planning Prevents Pitifully Poor Performance. “P to the 7th”, he called it. It’s a memorable alliteration that I’ve carried with me for over 3 decades.

Paul J. Meyer is known as the founder of the motivation industry. Here is his Success Formula, which ties nicely in to the 7 simple words of my flight instructor:

  1. Crystalize Your Thinking
  2. Develop a Plan for Achieving Your Goal and a Deadline for its Attainment
  3. Develop a Sincere Desire for the Things You Want in Life
  4. Develop Supreme Confidence in Yourself and Your Own Abilities
  5. Develop a Dogged Determination to Follow Through on Your Plan

Then, construct your determination with sustained effort, controlled attention and concentrated energy.

As you make your approach to 2016, be sure to Plan Properly – Prior to Performing – so that you will avoid a Pitifully Poor Performance. When you go back to the basics, review your plan and focus your attention, you will achieve your objective and land your plane as smooth as a baby’s bottom.

Remember these 7 Simple Words as you plan your marketing, operate your business, and make your dreams come true.

Have a safe flight!

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