One of my many professional guises is that of a flight instructor. It's true. I have actually been paid to teach random strangers how to fly an airplane. Together we have practiced taking off, navigating, maneuvering, and landing. Most of my students left the airport with a smile, too. The process isn't nearly as traumatic as most people imagine it to be.
In order to teach people to fly, I went to school to learn how to teach. Because when you get right down to it, teaching someone to buzz around in an airplane isn't that much different than teaching them to read, or do math, or speak a foreign language. Ultimately, you have to teach. To pass along information in a way that is understandable to the student.
Being a good teacher is a powerful thing that requires a single, simple piece of information. Teachers need to know what motivates you. If I know why you want to fly, or write, or read, or anything else – I can teach you to do it. Because when we encounter the occasional learning plateau, when things get tough for you, I can appeal to your specific motivation to help you get through that tough patch.
It's really that simple when you get right down to it.
Now most people have a reaction of unabashed admiration, or even awe, when they learn that someone they know can fly – better yet, that they can teach others to fly. They often ask, “How did you learn to do that?” They ask that question with genuine curiosity, too. Because most people think their lives are filled with not much more than a long series of dull, pedestrian events strung together for no other purpose than to take up the time between birth and death. On the other hand, pilots are exciting. Pilots have nerves of steel, sharp, finely honed minds, and the ability to defy the gods by climbing into the sky at will – just for the heck of it.
None of that is true, in reality. But people believe it is. They really do.
I will tell you the truth. My ability to fly, and teach, and write, and do pretty much everything else I do in life stems from one common thread. She said, "Yes."
That's pretty much it, really.
You see, I'm a guy. Guy's are simple. We have simple motivations. Few of us are truly that much different from the rest of the crowd. In my case, I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a girl who liked me, was willing to spend time with me, and said “yes” to the things I wanted to do. Things that most girlfriends and wives would say, “no” to.
The motivation provided a guy by an attractive woman saying, "Yes," cannot be overstated. We'll do anything if the woman in our life goes for it. Anything.
I asked her out on a date, and she said, “Yes.” Because of that our relationship grew closer and more intimate.
I asked her to move in with me, and she said “Yes.”. That moved her out of New York City into my apartment in Connecticut. And it got her father to stop talking to me, too.
I asked her to marry me, and she said “Yes.” That got her father talking again, and stepped up our relationship to one that has a higher level of commitment.
I told her I wanted to quit my job and go to flight school, to which she said, “Yes.” That allowed me to become a commercial pilot, and a flight instructor who had the desire and the ability to share what I'd learned with others.
The other day I was walking across a parking lot beside a prominent member of the community I live in. His car was parked nearby. We chatted casually while he fumbled for his keys. I busied myself unlocking my helmet from my motorcycle and swinging a leg across the seat to get underway.
“You should get a bike,” I chided. “Then we could start a gang, like Malcolm Forbes had.”
“My wife won't let me,” said this pillar of the community. “We've talked about it. That ship has sailed for me.”
One of the great highlights of my life is that I don't have to live with a life constrained by fear and worry. Because she said, “Yes.” And that's the most important thing of all.