Your Flight Plan For Excellence

December 21, 2020

Have you ever been asked, “Where are you going in your life?” I would guess that most people have not. That question is generally asked by parents, usually a mom, when an adult child seems to be off track. You’ll see it queried on a TV show, or maybe you have a friend who has a wayward kid and shares some information in confidence.  It’s a question that shouldn’t just have a negative connotation and one that we all should periodically ask ourselves, either to define a destination or to confirm that we are still on course with a goal previously set.

It’s certainly a question that you should ask from a business or career context. You’ll want to clearly define your professional destination and then construct a flight plan that will get you there. I’ll also advise that your professional goal be bold and audacious. When I was in the Air Force, the recruiting slogan was classically simple and right on point, “Aim High.” It made sense. Why drive a bus if you can fly a jet?

It's Not Just About The Money

You should also ask the question regarding other aspects of your life. Career is central, but so are family and friends. Don’t sacrifice important relationships on the almighty alter of financial desire. And don’t forget why we want financial security. Money is a means to an end. It’s to provide the resources to enjoy our lives. Take the time to do the things you enjoy or to explore new experiences. Life goes by quicker than we realize, and you don’t want to waste any of that precious time.


Your planning should be as detailed as required to meet your goal—the more ambitious the objective, the more comprehensive the plan. Let me use an aviation analogy. If I’m flying that Delta jet from Atlanta to Savannah, there is not as much detailed planning required. Both cities are in the same state, so the weather is probably not a serious concern. If I have an emergency, I can turn back and go to Atlanta or continue and land at Savannah. It’s a short flight, so I don’t have to worry about passenger comfort items, catering, or if a laboratory is out of service.


If I’m flying from Atlanta to San Francisco, my planning is much more detailed. We are transitioning the entire country, and the weather will probably be different in several sections. I’ll need to know this to give my passengers a smooth ride. I may have an emergency in the middle of nowhere, so I’ll need to look at my options. I’ll need a runway long enough for a jumbo jet, and it would be nice to be at a Delta station with people who are familiar with my plane. Passenger comfort is essential, so I’ll need to ensure that the flight is catered correctly and that all laboratories are in working order. It’s a much more complicated trip, so the planning is much more detailed and critical to a successful flight. You can use this analogy as a planning guide.

It’s essential to know your destination in life and to have a flight plan to get there. It increases the chance that you’ll successfully arrive. As that great baseball philosopher, Yogi Berra, said, “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going because you might not get there.”


“Plan your work and work your plan.”
-Napoleon Hill