Bio: Lt. Col. Rob 'Waldo' Waldman - The Wingman - is a professional leadership speaker and peak performance consultant. He teaches executives, entrepreneurs, associations and corporations how to build trusting, revenue producing relationships with their employees, partners, and customers. While relaying his personal experiences as a combat decorated fighter pilot and businessman, he makes a striking parallel that is memorable and exciting and brings fighter-pilot energy into each story and illustration. A former Air Force fighter pilot, he relates his real world combat and business experience to sales and management execution of corporations nationwide. Waldo is a highly experienced combat veteran with over 2,650 flight hours and sixty-five real world combat missions, having flown both in Iraq enforcing the “No-Fly Zone” and in Yugoslavia during Operation Allied Force in 1999. Some of his military honors include five Air Medals, two Aerial Achievement Medals, and four Air Force Commendation Medals. Waldo's new book "Never Fly Solo" is available at Http://www.neverflysolo.com or visit his website at Http://www.yourwingman.com
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- Without hesitation, you took your wingman’s advice when he said “Break right!”
- You successfully applied evasive maneuvering procedures (i.e. you took action.)
- Your wingman never lost sight of you.
As I write this article at my favorite Starbucks, I can’t help but hear the conversation next to me. A middle-aged woman is having a coffee meeting with a peer discussing job opportunities, the market and their personal networks. It’s obvious that she’s lost her job due to cutbacks and is networking like mad, reaching out to her wingmen and exploring job opportunities.
We all know someone who recently lost a job or who is struggling with their business. The economy is tough today. Sales are down, credit is tight, budgets are being slashed and jobs are being cut. We’ve all been affected. It’s just reality. And while we can’t control Wall Street, the only thing we can control is how we react to what’s going on. As my friend and wingman John Harrington of OTR Consultants says, when adversity strikes, “we either fear or we lead.”
If we fear, we crawl out of bed anxious, worrisome and focusing on what we don’t have. We become strangled with doubt. We strap into our jet ready to take off, but push up the throttle with the brakes on. Doubt prevents us from releasing our brakes and destroys the warrior spirit. It kills performance, which eventually leads to failure.
If we lead, we jump out of bed, acknowledge our fear (hey, it’s normal to be afraid when adversity strikes!) and then give thanks for what we have. We gather our resources, plan the day’s mission and then gather the courage to take decisive action. We focus on doing, not doubting … on performance, not philosophy. We understand that we’re in control of our jet and are ultimately responsible for results.
Here’s the question you have to ask yourself during adverse conditions: Will you fear or lead?
In turbulent times like today with the missiles being launched, we have to be warriors, not worriers. Warriors confront the reality of their fears and then lead by taking action. When I flew in combat with my wingmen, sure we were scared. Sure we had doubt. But when it came time to execute, we prepared relentlessly and then took action as a team. We felt courageous and confident because we weren’t flying solo and knew we could count on each other for mutual support. Most importantly, we focused on our actions, not on our attitude.
In business, attitude alone won’t get you to take off. Yes it’s important, but ultimately you have to take action for change to occur. Attitude gives the thrust, but action provides the
vector.You have to release the brakes on your jet and roll down the runway with a target and a plan, knowing full well what the stakes are. I know it can be overwhelming and it isn’t easy. But let’s face it; the greatest results in business often require the greatest effort and risk. On the opposite side of fear, is growth.
I want to emphasize that being a modern-day warrior isn’t about combat. It’s about commitment, courage and accountability. It’s about fighting for a cause that means something. Yes, warriors fight for those they serve, but they also fight for freedom, peace, family and love. Warriors work. Warriors live by the credo, “the more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in battle.” They
plan and train with discipline and intensity and put forth the effort so that they never have to go to battle. As
the great Chinese General and military strategist Sun Tzu wrote in The Art of War, the greatest victories in war are the ones that are never fought.
Most importantly, warriors are a beacon of hope for those in need. In essence, warriors are wingmen. Warriors are your friends who refer business to you, who share their best practices, give feedback on your sales performance and who take your keys when you’ve been drinking. They give their love and advice freely, but also help you be accountable to the most important wingman in your life … yourself!
Warriors are wingmen who will do what it takes to help you turn your fear into courage, push up your throttle, release your brakes and take off. Warriors want you to win.
As we deal in these uncertain economic times, I would challenge
you to lead rather than fear. Be thankful for the warriors in your life who fight the good fight and who give you
the courage to release your brakes and take off in turbulent conditions. And last but not least, pray for the strength to be a warrior for your customer, your co-workers and for those less fortunate who can’t muster up the courage to release the brakes on their own.
Be a wingman—a warrior with a heart.
Never Fly Solo!
Lt. Col. Rob “Waldo” Waldman
Picture a crisp, clear spring day. You’re flying 633 mph at 22,000 feet, with your wingman two miles off and exactly ninety degrees to your right on a combat mission in southern Iraq’s no-fly zone. You both are scanning for enemy aircraft, surface-to-air missiles (SAMS), and radar activity. Over half your time is spent “checking six”—looking behind you and your wingman for unseen threats or movement.
Suddenly, you hear your wingman’s voice blare over the radio, “Break right, break right! Missile launch your five o’clock!” Your heartbeat ramps up and you feel the surge of adrenaline as your fight-or-flight reflex kicks in. This all happens in an eye blink, and in that same instant, it’s time to act. Instinctively you ‘break right’ – crank the stick to the right, bank the aircraft ninety degrees, and pull back as hard as you can, feeling the g forces flatten you back into the seat.
You lower the nose, jettisoning chaff and flares to help break the radar lock, and crane your neck around behind you to get a “visual” of the missile. The smoke plume of its exhaust becomes easily visible as you continue the maneuver to avoid the missile’s flight path. Fortunately for you, it detonates a thousand feet from your aircraft. In some ways, it all feels like a dream.
Then, before you can even relish the victory, you realize that you’re now “low and slow”—a perfect target for more SAMs. The fear grabs you once again as you rocket skyward to gain altitude while continuing to scan for missiles…and your wingman! You need to reestablish mutual support. As if reading your mind, he calls out on the radio, “Two, your visual is left ten o’clock, three miles, high.” You refocus in that direction and take a deep breath of relief as you find your wingman on the horizon, rejoin him, and continue the mission. You have survived.
This is just another day in the life of a fighter pilot.
But let’s look closer. Just what made surviving that attack possible?
You’re flying missions every day too, at work and at home.
They generally aren’t as intense as combat, but the pressures and the stakes are real nonetheless. The key, not just to surviving but to winning these missions, lies with your wingmen—your trusted partners and collaborators. And these wingmen come in all guises: your coworkers, supervisors, spouse, best friend.
Now imagine this scene:
You arrive at the office, mud on your shoes, your clothes soaked. Your car blew a tire on the way in, and when you got out to have a look, a pickup truck hit the puddle next to you, and the water flew. After enduring jokes from the receptionist and anyone else who sees you, you get to your office and find that the printed and collated copies of your big presentation for the upcoming tradeshow were delivered on schedule—bound upside down and in the wrong order. Throw in your two junior staff members complaining about the raises they didn’t get, and you can start to feel the steam shooting out your ears. Not exactly missiles, but enough to make you feel as if you were crashing to earth!
Enter your wingman Joe, a fellow sales manager who’s your partner on several accounts. He closes your office door, lets you rant a little while, then starts to calm you down and get you back on the right flight path. Someone in the print shop owes him a favor—he’ll be able to get your copies fixed in time. The two whining staff members? Joe points out that one received a promotion and raise just six months ago, and the other is up for a performance review in a week. You’ll be able to give a pay bump then—problem solved.
As your blood pressure inches back down, Joe suggests that you pull a change of clothes from your gym bag and give your suit to the cleaners in the lobby of the building, who offer one-hour service. “Now, Phil, let’s talk about the Acme account,” says Joe, pulling out a pad and pen. “We have that big presentation, and we need a slam-dunk to win the business. Here’s what I think we should do…”
In just fifteen minutes your trusted wingman has helped you “break right,” deploy your defense systems, and “cover your six.” You’re both back in formation and on your way to the next battle. Are you even aware of the wingmen at your office and in your life? Are you backing each other up, “checking six” for missile launches, and calling out “Break right!” when necessary? Most importantly, when your wingmen say, “Break right,” will you heed the call? Or will you instead question them, doubt their credibility, or maybe even resent them for telling you what to do?
Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve worked hard for something—a new project at work, a promotion, marriage, or a chance to coach your child’s team—and one of your wingmen pulls you aside and gently explains that you’re not quite ready, or maybe not even right, for this responsibility? Maybe you were criticized about some very personal issues, told that to improve your chances of winning the new client you’d need to change your clothing style, your communication skills, or your ability to speak before an audience. Your wingman has spotted “bogies” bearing down on you and is warning you to “break right” before serious trouble ensues.
Although it feels like a personal insult, the choice you make in that moment is critical: Heed the call and avoid getting shot down; or ignore the warning, and you or someone you care about may get hurt. As we have seen, being a wingman is all about trust. Trust implies mutual respect, confidence, even compassion. Not everyone can be your wingman, and that’s why you must choose carefully. After all, who wants to be criticized by someone we don’t trust.
Being a wingman also implies shared responsibility. You not only need to listen carefully (and act) when you hear “Break right!”— you need to be willing to call it out as well. This takes courage. But if you really care about someone and consider them your wingman, you have to do what’s right to help this person grow.
Every day in business you’re placed in situations where you may need wingmen to help you “fly” more effectively, gain perspective, and keep your work and home environments safe and running smoothly. Wingmen help us with perspective, because it’s easy to get so focused on a project or so comfortable with our habits that we lose sight of the big picture. Thus, we can be flying with blinders on without ever knowing it—a bad idea when the missiles start coming at us.
The key here is self-leadership and accountability.
It means being open to feedback and heeding the warning calls that your wingmen may send you. Then, by taking action (refocusing your attention and adjusting your flight path), you’ll avoid the missiles, get back on target, and continue the mission safely and effectively.
So I invite you, my fellow wingmen, to look around the skies and identify the wingmen in your personal and professional lives, who may need to hear you say, “Break right!” Just as important, keep an ear cocked for their calls, too. Your coworkers, customers, stockholders—and at some point, perhaps your very life—may depend on it.
Two minutes passed since we had changed radio frequencies and I still hadn’t heard from my wingmen. My flight lead still had not checked me in. Was there a problem I didn’t know about? Did I turn to the right frequency? Was my radio broken? We were approaching the enemy’s border and I was getting nervous.
Having no radio contact at 20,000 feet and separated from my wingmen by 10 miles on a night combat mission in hostile Iraqi territory was not an ideal situation. What if I lost my engine or was engaged by ground fire? How could I call for help?
Without my radio, there was no communication link to my wingmen. I felt naked and alone.
Suddenly my backup VHF radio blared with the terse (yet comforting) sound of my flight lead, “2, come up 239.9.” I responded with a “2” and changed frequencies immediately. My flight lead continued, “Vipers, check!” We responded in a crisp, monotone cadence, “2, 3, 4.” We were all marching to the same beat. “Vipers, FENCE-IN, Check Master-Arm Hot!” I flipped the master arm switch to the “Hot” position, knowing full well that my weapons were now ready to be fired. We were now one synchronized formation, with a concise flight plan and a mission objective that was delivered in our pre-mission briefing. Our radios (in addition to our radar) were our link and ‘tied’ us together. We were ready for battle.
Communication in training and combat is absolutely mission-critical. It ensures safety, keeps wingmen focused on their responsibilities and builds awareness in rapidly changing environments.
On every mission, fighter pilots:
- Brief the mission to establish and communicate objectives, delegate responsibilities, analyze threats and review contingency plans.
- Establish a communication (“Comm”) game plan by confirming when and where we would change frequencies.
- Brief a backup plan in case communication fails (known as “radio-out” procedures).
- Ensure positive two-way communication is established during critical elements of a mission.
- Debrief every mission to review lessons learned and reinforce training.
What’s your “Comm Plan” with your wingmen? Are you taking the time to brief your missions? Do you ensure all team members are on the same wavelength and understand their roles, responsibilities and objectives? Are you aware of those wingmen that may be on the wrong frequency? Most importantly, do you have a plan to get them back on target?
Checking in with your wingmen, listening to their questions and understanding their challenges are fundamental components of teamwork and leadership. They are the cornerstones in building an environment of mutual support and trust. Effective communication creates an atmosphere of accountability and reduces stress. When people’s problems are acknowledged and they know that help is available, they are more likely to admit mistakes to their wingmen and reveal safety hazards or dangerous work environments that can adversely effect the accomplishment of a mission.
As a leader, here are several communication “Wingtips” to think about:
- Have a “mass briefing” at least once a month. Gather your troops and communicate the latest trends, organizational goals, safety ideas and updates, customer initiatives, etc. Your wingmen need to hear important news—whether good or bad—from you first!
- Conduct feedback sessions on a consistent basis. Sit down with your wingmen and let them know how they are doing. Are they meeting your expectations? Ask them about their goals and what kind of challenges they are facing. Solicit feedback on you as a leader. What would they like to see from you? Is the mission understood? Look for signs of confusion and resolve to eliminate them. If they aren’t up to speed, let them know as soon as possible. Remember, leaders who worry about popularity ultimately fail.
- Walk the flight line. Get your hands dirty with your wingmen! Spend time with them on the job and observe how they do business. Ask questions about their work challenges and personal lives. Show them you care.
- De-brief your missions. Remove your “rank” and conduct a nameless, blameless and rank-less de-brief after every critical mission. Find out if objectives were met, and analyze why they weren’t. Search for trends and communicate these to the rest of your organization. Lessons learned should not rest solely in your squadron. Share them openly with your other wingmen.
A “wingtip” warning: Don’t use the tips above as a call to walk around lecturing the members of your team—it’s all about give and take. One of the biggest critiques fighter pilots have of their wingmen is talking too much on the radio and not listening!
We need to listen to build what we call Situational Awareness (“SA” for short). SA is the comprehensive understanding of the entire mission. It is based on weather, location of threats, position of your wingmen, fuel state, nearest suitable landing field, etc. It is constantly changing. The greater your situational awareness, the better your ability to handle contingencies and adapt to change. Through communicating with our wingmen and our other airborne or ground forces (mostly by listening!), a wingman is able to build SA and become much more mission-focused.
The best wingmen (leaders or new hires) are those who know when to speak, and when to simply shut up and listen! They are the ones with the greatest SA. Your job in the world of health and safety is to build the best SA possible to meet the needs of your customers and internal wingmen, all while maintaining a safe and healthy work environment. By listening and ensuring your people are on the same frequency as you, you build trust … trust that you’ll be there when the “mayday” or a “break right” call is made.
Trust that you’ll heed the wingman’s call for action which is “I need help!”
Push it up!®
Waldo — Your Wingman
Check out Waldo’s interview on CNN about his bestselling book “Never Fly Solo”
As a professional speaker and consultant, I’ve been able to build trusting relationships with a lot of very successful people all over the world. This truly has been a blessing, and I really enjoy facilitating what I call “wingman connections” in my network.
Unfortunately, my travel schedule has prevented me from doing some local networking in my hometown of Atlanta. However, my travel was minimal these past two weeks so I was able to get out there and give it a shot. I admit I was a bit rusty.
Now, I’m no pro at networking. I wish I was better at working a room, but I would rather have two to three personal conversations about something of substance than meet 20 strangers, sling some cheesy conversation back and forth, get 20 business cards and then leave wondering who the heck I spoke with. I want to plant seeds and nurture future wingmen, and not just BS. It’s just not me.
I have to admit that I get wound up watching certain people who will only acknowledge or speak with someone if they see a big, juicy dollar sign on their forehead, or if they look like a person of influence who can “hook them up.”
You may bump into them at the hors devours table and they strike up a conversation (pretty much one-way.) Then they enthusiastically ask for your card and toss it in their pocket without even looking at it. “I’ll send you an e-mail and we’ll connect” they say. They go home, toss out your card and you never hear from them again (unless of course, you had that dollar sign on your forehead.) But rest assured, you’re now on three to four marketing lists and getting spammed from some nimrod who knows nothing about sales, networking or relationship-building.
“But hey, it’s all about relationships.” Yeah right!
Can you relate?
Well, let me be upfront. I used to be that wingnut! Maybe not to that extreme … but when I networked in the past, it was all about me. But not anymore.
So, now here’s what I do. I sit back and watch. I watch the people who are listening rather than talking. Are they paying attention, or just waiting for the next dollar sign to appear? Are they smiling? Do they appear interested in who they are talking to? Do they seem kind and trustworthy?
I look for a wingman … a future trusted partner.
Now, this person doesn’t have to have a job, be super successful or have the potential to get me business or refer me. I just want to meet someone I can build a connection with … someone I respect from the inside out who wants to take their life or career to the next level. Someone passionate about growth and who is a hard worker. I get excited about helping these types of people. It gives meaning to my mission.
We all know the job market is tough right now, and business is lean. People are struggling. Many are out of work and they’re trying to fly with broken wings and they can’t. They need help. But unfortunately, most networkers look for the next job instead of the next relationship. They look to garner the next business opportunity, instead of garnering trust. Their radar can’t see beyond their own targets.
So, here are a few “outside the cockpit” networking wingtips that will plant seeds for future personal and professional opportunities and build wingman relationships.
- Take the focus off of yourself. Your primary objective should be to meet a few people who you can help, either through your knowledge, your encouragement or your trusted connections. Ask yourself, “if not me, then who in my network do I know that can possibly help this person?” Be genuine in your desire to help.
- Connect more with your new contact after the networking event if you do decide to help or refer them to one of your wingmen. Meet for lunch, have a conversation and exchange a few e-mails. Build more of a relationship and learn more about them.
- Ask unique questions like, “What are you passionate about in your life right now?” or “What are you doing now that’s cool?” (My friend Brendon Burchard likes to ask that.)
- Wingwork, don’t network – Introduce people and facilitate new connections while at the event. If people you meet have similar hometowns, colleges, hobbies or business backgrounds, introduce them … be a connector.
- If you say you will follow up, make sure you do.
Networking is just as much about finding those with broken wings who you can help to get airborne again as it is about finding new wingmen who can help you fly to new heights. Remember, in order to find new wingmen, you have to be a wingman.
In this tough economy, let’s all do our best to be wingivers while networking. Let’s not leave anyone behind. If we all lent a wing, we all would fly.
NEVER FLY SOLO!
About the Author:
Lt. Col. Rob “Waldo” Waldman is a former combat-decorated fighter pilot with corporate sales experience. Known as “The Wingman,” he is an inspirational peak performance speaker and uses fighter-pilot strategies to build teamwork, leadership and trust in highly competitive environments. Waldo’s clients include AFLAC, Hewlett-Packard, Nokia, Bank of America, John Hancock, and Home Depot. His book “Never Fly Solo” will be released in the Fall of 2009. To download his Top Gun Motivation mission briefing, visit motivational speaker, email email@example.com or call 1-866-925-3616.
For a fighter pilot in combat, speed is everything. It improves maneuverability, allows faster target engagement, and it can be ‘converted’ to a higher altitude for better situational awareness of the battlefield. Speed is also essential when aborting a mission or avoiding a formidable threat. It can save your life.
That’s why we have a saying in the jet fighter community:
Speed is life.
Those three simple words took on a new meaning for me, my squadron and a group of engineers in April of 1999, and taught me a vital lesson.
My wingmen and I were in a daily full-fledged air-to-ground battle with the corrupt regime of Slobodan Milosevic during Operation Allied Force. The enemy forces in Serbia had formidable surface-to-air weapons and their radar systems were doing a very effective job at tracking our aircraft. They even shot a few fighters down.
Our mission in the 79th Fighter Squadron: track and destroy these enemy radar sites using the HARM Targeting System (HTS) in conjunction with the HARM (High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile). Both systems were built by the defense contracting company Raytheon. Initially, our squadron was very effective at eliminating the enemy sites, but after just a few weeks they were able to jam our targeting systems. Our mission effectiveness dropped rapidly and we were now all at risk. It was a do-or-die situation and we needed help…fast!
We called Raytheon and explained our dangerous predicament. In just a few days, their engineers were on base briefing us on a revised plan to defeat the threat. I’ll never forget the site in our huge, secure, fortified hangar – three engineers in khaki pants and buttoned down shirts briefing over 100 pilots in sweaty flight suits! They asked questions and then listened. They went back to the drawing board and worked on a solution. Within a day, we had upgraded software for the HTS and HARM loaded into the F-16s’ computers. We went from vulnerable to mission ready, just like that.
Raytheon was living the concept of “speed is life.” When we asked them for help, they didn’t reply, “Thanks for the feedback guys. We’ll get back to you in a few weeks.” They knew lives were on the line. Their sense of urgency and commitment to serving us – the customer – drastically improved our mission effectiveness and possibly saved lives.
Today there is a “new normal” in business. Like Raytheon, we all have to be more responsive and more in tune with prospects, clients and our operating environment. More than ever, speed and timing are essential to stay ahead of the competition.
Want to have more speed in business? Try implementing these “speed wingtips:”
- Speed to market. Avoid “analysis paralysis.” Instead of endlessly talking, testing and planning as you try to make a new product or service perfect, get it to market NOW. The Raytheon team didn’t run back to the lab for endless testing and re-testing. They tested the solution in real time. While you never want to market a faulty or inadequate product, one that is 97% ready to go can be good enough to serve your customer’s needs (and still beat the competition.)
- Get timely intel on targets. Keep your “business radar” sweeping for qualified prospects and leads. You need to use every available resource to keep abreast of potential new clients and relevant up to date intelligence on your market. Yesterday’s news does not work for today’s prospects. Social media (like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook), networking events, and information from industry publications are great intelligence resources.
- Speed to target! How fast do you follow-up on a hot lead or get back to a prospect or current customer who requests information or needs help? (Hint: Immediately is a good response.) Today, with constant connectivity to the web, people expect answers quickly and simply are not willing to wait. For critical information, don’t just send an e-mail response. Pick up the phone and personally connect. If necessary, meet your prospect in person like Raytheon did.
- Quick mission follow up. After a meeting or conclusion of a business engagement, always send a thank you card right away (hand written and hand addressed singles you out.) Did you get the business or lead with the help of a wingman? Send a thank you to that person as well.
- Debrief every mission: Whenever possible, a post mission debriefing should be conducted with a client or prospect. Go through the good, bad and ugly. Be open to any type of feedback. Sometimes, a request or complaint may result. Both are opportunities to soar. A request means the chance to prove your value – even if it’s outside your skill set. Find a wingman in your network who can help you and your client. You’ll prove yourself to be a great “go to” resource. Complaints? Deal with them quickly and use them as opportunities to improve performance. Finally, never delay saying “I’m sorry” when you mess up. Mistakes happen. Clean them up quickly and then move on.
In a competitive business climate, speed is indeed life. And while your life may not be on the line (like it was for me and my wingmen in Kosovo), the life of your business is. Like Raytheon, go above and beyond to be proactive and demonstrate how your customer service is different from the competition. When you do, you’ll gain loyalty, trust, and yes…maybe even a valuable new client.
Check out Waldo’s Best-Selling Book Never Fly Solo!
Visit Waldo at the “Your Wingman” (http://www.yourwingman.com) website.
Like many of you, I recently joined the Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn craze and it’s been great. I’ve re-connected with old friends from high school, college and my fighter pilot days, and I’ve also met some very interesting people. And yes—like you, I can easily spend a few hours a day on these sites checking out profiles and looking at cool videos and photos.
Last week, I was driving home from a lunch meeting and was thinking of who I needed to re-connect with. David Greenberg (a personal friend and one of the best speaker coaches I know) came to mind. And I did something crazy. I didn’t search for him on Facebook. Nor did I Tweet him a personal message. I didn’t even send him an e-mail. I actually called him on the phone, and believe it or not, he answered! We connected, shared some cool business ideas and I hung up feeling great.
Yes, I know I’m being a bit facetious here. But I have to say that if there is one thing that drives this wingman ”wingnuts” is when people abuse this whole social-networking thing. In many ways, it’s gone from “here’s what I’m doing” to “here’s what I’m selling.” From “let me connect you to” to “let me sell you.”
Well, I’ve got news for you, ye social networking gurus. If I don’t know you, I probably won’t buy from you. The reason I said “probably” is because there are times when we will buy something from someone even if we don’t know them. If it has value and can help our business/life, then hey, it’s worth a look. And there’s nothing wrong with occasionally sharing our great product, seminar or book with our contacts. Social-networking sites are a tremendous way to expose our market to our value.
But please, let’s not put our sales links and impersonal offers in EVERY POST we make on Twitter or Facebook!
We need to be careful not to abuse the social-networking sites and our connections. They are primarily for networking and making contacts, not direct sales.
I believe our phone book should still remain our primary method for building and maintaining our relationships. One phone call equals 50 tweets and Facebook messages. Phone calls are great at building trust, and trust what a wingman is all about.
So, here are some wingtips to augment your social-networking efforts:
- Make it a priority to call a few of your special contacts every day. Do this first thing in the morning if able. These include your top clients, vendors and yes, your friends.
- Use your phone judiciously. Before you head to the airport or Starbucks, make a list of a few wingmen to call while in your car or at the gate.
- Give something of value to your contact on the phone (i.e., a referral). Before you hang up, ask them this special question: “Is there anything I can help you with?”
- ** If you really want to connect with a new e-contact, research their website and call them. I guarantee they will be impressed …a nd shocked.
In this high speed age of Twitter and text messaging where words on a screen are the norm, we need to hear each other’s voices. Voices incur emotion and emotion is what connects people. And when connections are made, trust is built and relationships develop. How people make you feel is what initially builds relationships, not the product they sell.
So, if you want to be a trusted partner—to your network, don’t forget to reference your phonebook in addition to Facebook when flight planning your next mission.
So, how do you get a 35,000-pound F-16 jet fighter to fly?
It’s no easy feat.
To overcome the force of gravity, you have to create a force that is greater than gravity’s grasp. That force is lift.
THE ENEMY IS A DRAG
As the F-16 blasts through the sky, there is an “enemy” of lift that must be overcome. It’s an aerodynamic force that resists the forward motion of the jet (known as drag.)
There are two kinds of drag—induced and parasite. Induced drag is a “good drag.” It’s a byproduct of lift and is necessary for flight.
Parasite drag is not helpful because it battles against the good drag, working to slow the aircraft down. It’s caused by the non-lifting portions of the aircraft, such as the landing gear, missiles, and external fuel tanks.
HERE’S THE BIG PICTURE
In order to fly, a jet’s lift must exceed drag. The less drag, the easier the plane flies.
Let’s look at this on a practical level in fighter combat. When evading missiles or engaging another fighter in close combat, one of the first things you must do is what pilots call “jettison your stores.” You have to get rid of all the parasite drag hanging from the jet that’s not critical to immediate, fast flight. Fuel tanks and bombs, for example, must go. This reduces your weight while simultaneously reducing drag, allowing the fighter to be much more maneuverable to avoid getting shot down.
Simply put, if you don’t need it, you drop it.
WHAT’S DRAGGING YOU DOWN?
What “parasites” do you have dragging you down and stopping you from reaching new heights in your life?
Parasites are the negative relationships that sap you of your energy and time while giving nothing in return. They are also the fears, doubts, mental baggage, dramas, and self-limiting beliefs that strangle your ability to take action. Parasites suck the life out of you. They can drag you down emotionally and hold you back from being a successful leader.
HANGING AND HOLDING
Do you have any of that “hanging around?”
We all have parasite drag in our lives. We’re just not aware that we have it, or we put off doing anything about it until our own personal “missiles” begin to fly. The problem is if we’re dragged down too much, the missiles will hit us.
What are you holding on to that you really need to let go of? Here’s my advice. Jettison your parasite now!
Are you willing to jettison what’s dragging you down so you can become more fulfilled and successful? Perhaps it’s an unhealthy relationship, laziness, or a private addiction such as TV, gambling, or even a sugar fix. Or maybe a bad job bringing you down or a fear of failure stopping you from starting a new business.
Want to find what gives lift in your life?
Look at what drives your passion. Look at the relationships and activities that get you excited and energized and ready to “push it up” in life. Then, pursue them relentlessly. Seek what gives you life.
When flight planning for success, winners have an ability to get rid of distractions and focus on action that leads to positive results. They also surround themselves with people who challenge them. Jim Rohn, one of my favorite philosophers, has a saying that I love, “Don’t spend major time with minor people.” If you want to be a success, spend time with people who lift you up to greater heights. They are your wingmen. Folks who have the courage and compassion to tell it like it is. They won’t settle for your excuses, but they will also inspire you and give you hope.
THE QUESTION REMAINS THE SAME
How do you attract these type of people into your life?
You do it by giving your time, advice, and hope to those in need. In essence, you become a wingman to others and help them to fly to greater heights. You do the hard work to build your own character before expecting it of others. This is the core of leadership. When you do this, wingmen will naturally be attracted to you. They will feel comfortable coming to you for help and you will slowly but surely find yourself surrounded by people you trust. As I always say, never fly solo.
LEADERSHIP WINGTIP—leaders push themselves up, while pulling others up.
Discipline, hard work, and productive relationships are the lifts in life that overcome the parasite drags of unhealthy relationships, addictions and complacency. They are your tools to conquer mediocrity and live with courage. They will help you to win. Don’t leave them from your flight plan.
If you want to reach new heights in business and in life, make sure you do whatever it takes to maximize your lift and minimize your drag. Not only will you avoid the missiles, but you’ll hit your target as well!
The air conditioned briefing room felt as cold as ice as I waited for the arrival of my instructor. I was a bundle of nerves. One more ‘busted’ check ride would put me one flight away from washing out of Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT). My dream of becoming a fighter pilot hung by a thread. I began to doubt myself.
What if I mess up again? What if I forget to call ‘gear down’ on final approach or fail to apply the proper spin recovery procedures? I repeatedly chair flew the maneuvers over and over and knew what needed to be done but kept re-playing the previous flights I failed in my head. I second guessed myself and my confidence dwindled. The sweat poured down my back.
In walked the instructor who would decide my fate, Major Jerry Free. A former F-4 fighter pilot who had little tolerance for mediocrity and laziness, he stood 6’3 with buzz cut hair and shiny boots. I was intimidated to say the least.
Not knowing what to expect, I stood at attention, braced myself, and saluted smartly.
He saluted back, looked me in the eyes, and reached over to shake my hand. “Ok, Waldo – it’s a new day, new jet! Are you ready to pass this flight, or what?”
Suddenly, the energy of the room shifted and I instantly felt more confident. All the stress and anxiety I had bottled up exploded out of me like a bullet. My mind became clearer as I thought to myself, “I can do this. Today, I’m going to fly like an eagle.” Major Free believed in me.
New Day, New Jet. Wow! I never heard that expression before. But somehow, those four words and the man who spoke them instantly changed my attitude from Fear to Focus…from anxiety to action. I was ready to fly.
Some of you may be facing similar predicaments in your life that are testing your resolve, skill, and focus. Perhaps you are experiencing financial challenges or are having concerns at work as your company and clients adapt to our volatile economy. Missed sales quotas, budget cuts, and lost customers plague us. No mission is ever perfect, and neither are we.
We’re all human and have our limits. But sometimes, when we’re stuck and full of doubt, we underestimate our power to overcome adversity and perform at our best. We focus on our past failures and can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel of success because our vision is darkened by our fear of future failure. We pull back the throttle of performance instead of pushing it up. In essence, we let our past define our future. This is the greatest challenge we face when dealing with adversity.
But I believe there is no reason for us not to live up to our potential each day and perform at our best. Fear and doubt are distractions that can de-motivate us and pull us off course. Don’t let yesterday’s failure define you. It’s how you respond that counts.
And while I do believe it’s critical for us to remain positive in tough times, no amount of motivation is going to replace the fundamentals of hard work and preparation. You have a job to do. You have the aircraft and are ultimately in control of your own jet. The question is: Are you better prepared to fly today than you were yesterday?
Success begins with self trust.
As you strap into your jet each day and conduct a pre-flight ‘attitude check’, ask yourself:
- Am I focused on my past failures or my past successes?
- How have I improved from yesterday to today?
- What actions will I take today to plant the performance seeds for tomorrow?
You can’t philosophize your way to success. The world (and your customers) are growing tired of rhetoric and philosophy. Today, we need performers who can get the job done.
But sometimes, no matter how much you prepare, it’s impossible to break the performance barrier on your own. So here’s the next and most important question you should ask when fear and doubt hold you back from flying your jet: Who are the wingmen in my life I can call on to help me fly?
Winners Never Fly Solo.
Wingmen inspire us. Wingmen give us hope and lend a “helping wing.” Wingmen reflect our greatness back at us and help us release the brakes holding us back from success as we face each new day with courage. They don’t fly our jet for us but rather give us confidence in our own abilities. They alter our mindset from “I can’t” or “I won’t”, to “I can” and “I will.”
My challenge to you is not to be inhibited from calling out to your wingmen for some encouragement when you’re not quite up to that tough mission. Ask for help. Be vulnerable. We’re all taking hits. Today it might be you. Tomorrow it might be them.
But don’t forget to be a wingman to others, as well. Keep an eye out for your colleagues who are struggling and who might benefit from a little lift as they prepare for that job interview or big sales presentation. Like Major Free, be a shining light and inspire them to realize their fullest potential.
In business and life, yesterday’s clouds can block us from seeing today’s blue skies. Let us not forget that each day is a new day and we’re blessed to have a jet to fly.
In the end, I passed my flight with Major Free because he made me realize that I was good enough to fly.
You are good enough. You’ve got wings. And you’ve got wingmen.
It’s a new day, new jet. Now go and fly!
Never Fly Solo!