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Success on the Fly

Posted: Wednesday, Feb 13th, 2013


When you fly, the direction your glider is pointing is not necessarily the direction you are heading. Let me explain a thermal flight and how it applies to everything else in life.

Imagine you want to set a new cross-country flight record. Maybe you hope to fly 30 miles south down the river valley. There is no way to launch and fly straight south. All the launches face west. So, you launch off a mountainside and glide west out into the valley area.

If you turn south and glide, you’ll lose all your altitude and land in a couple measly miles. To gain altitude, you find a thermal of rising air, and circle inside it until the lift dissipates. Now that you have a few thousand feet under your wing, you can finally turn south (the direction you want to go) and glide. Soon, you lose much of the altitude, and you have to find another thermal. If you core it and get high again, you can turn down the valley and go farther.

Repeat this process as long as you can find thermals and gain altitude, or until you’ve set your record. Notice that though you were heading south, the direction you flew to get there was every which way. Do you see the analogy?

In my case, I started as a bank teller - but I wanted a career in management. To gain leadership experience I joined associations and worked on committees, some of which I chaired for the leadership experience. I continually applied for jobs that seemed to have lift - like thermals do.

From bank teller, I ran the two-person escrow department. I took more classes, and started helping with loans. Soon I was making small loans, then bigger ones. When I peaked out in banking I found a management position of a tourist attraction that had potential for growth. I got to spread my wings.

Finally, I was in management.

Knowing your heading is important, but don’t worry about your direction at the moment. You might need to circle around a bit.

As a team, review your heading and discuss the direction everyone is taking to help the group get to your destination:

• Where are you trying to go as an organization?

• Are there opportunities that you can take better advantage of?

• What detours might you have to take to reach that destination?

• Is there a way to divide and conquer some of the obstacles?

• Distribute the workload of the individuals evenly.

• Ask everyone for ideas to streamline to improve performance.

Frequent team discussions about your heading and individual directions will keep your flock flying in formation.

Chris Waugh is a business consultant, author and speaker who “lends wings to your success.” Visit ChrisWaugh.com or Facebook.com/chriswaughonthefly for more.

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