Aviators' Thoughts

My job search and business aviation as seen on AviationWeek

Lessons Learned

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They say that “everything happens for a reason”. It’s hard to find a reason for two job losses in 14 months, but strangely a lot of good has come out of it so far. If this last year has taught me anything, it’s that you are NEVER too old to learn lessons in life and I have certainly learned mine…

I learned to be prepared for anything…I think it’s the nature of the aviation profession to be primed for all eventualities. The first thing I learned was to prepared, even in the best of times, to have anything and everything change in a heartbeat. In many ways, I have been lucky. My wife and I were saving money for a big, lavish wedding to make up for the tiny nuptials we had when we met. That money became our emergency fund when I was laid off. If it wasnt for those funds, we would have been in BIG trouble. Even though much of it is gone now, I have been fortunate enough to still be in my home and keep my lights on. In the future, I will ALWAYS make sure we have savings on hand if the job suddenly goes away. I also didnt get roped into buying “toys” (boats, cars, jet skiis, etc). Those things would have just added debt and stress to our lives and I have found that even the simplest and least expensive things can still bring you great joy.

I learned to regain my empathy for others…. When I had money, I rarely gave to the homeless (though I did donate). I was one of those who thought, “they need to get a job”, but as the old saying goes “walk a mile in their shoes.” I NOW understand how fine a line we all live between prosperity and poverty. I understand the crushing weight that comes with lack of money. How far are each of us from being one of those on the street? Frankly, its been a lot of luck and sheer determination which has kept me and my family from winding up in that state. I will NEVER look at the plight of the poor the same way again. I no longer ignore the situation of those that are “less fortunate”. I am reminded of a scene in one the versions of a Christmas Carol where Scrooge sees a man who is living under a bridge, homeless with his family. He is sad and depressed from the lack of work, but still had pride enough not to steal. He says “these are good hands, strong hands, it’s not fair there is no work.”  The scene is designed to appeal to the empathetic part of the old miser.” How many of us feel like we are in that stage now? We need to care for ALL people.  The poor are not invisible and its taken this kind of shock to my life to make that fact PERFECTLY CLEAR. As one of the ghosts say in Dickens’ novel “Mankind IS my “business””

I learned what true friendship is… Sometimes the most amazing things can happen in the most ordinary of situations. After my first layoff, I had a job (briefly) at a flight training school in north Florida. We taught Chinese students how to fly. Some had problems with the language barrier and the different cultures that the Chinese brought. I, however, taught these men with respect and patience that they appreciated. These men quickly went from being just students to being my friends, true friends. In a world where friendship is often based on what the other person can do for you, these men just wanted to be my friend and nothing more. They respected me as a teacher and as a person. They invited me to dinner, just because. They expected NOTHING in return other than my friendship and I became a better man for knowing them. In fact, their friendship was the truest I have seen since I was a child, when we didnt expect anything from our friends other than to be there. When these men found themselves nearly trapped in their condos, unable to buy food because of financial troubles with the school. I, along with others, felt a DUTY to help these men. After all, what kind of person would let his friends starve? I KNEW if I was ever in the same situation, they would do the same for me. I would have not met these men if it wasnt for my first layoff and I became a better person for it. While the job ended, the experience will go down as one of the most memorable in my lifetime.

I learned to be a better husband… As I wrote before, aviation can take a toll on the best of relationships. I was away from the house over half the year at my first job and it can be incredibly lonely for your spouse, especially when you are new to the area and dont have a lot of contacts. It became hard on us both. Often I would come home tired, thinking only of my needs and not hers. She just wanted to go out and to be around me. I just wanted ot sit at home. This last year, being with my wife almost everyday has taught me that there are MUCH more important things then myself. The hardest job in the world is being married. It is a job the grows and evolves over a lifetime and you have to work at it everyday. I now realize that I was neglecting that part of marriage where she just wanted to talk to me, to have me listen. To not need to be with her was not healthy for our relationship. All the adversity of the last year has brought us closer together. It has reminded me how any why I love my spouse and even when I am very busy again, I will make sure to take care of HER needs as well as my own.

I learned to help others…. Another amazing experience that has come out of this trying time has been encountering people who TRULY want to help others. When I began my social media networking, I ran into a person who himself was laid off. This person started a movement called “Pink Slip Mixers” that brings job seekers and employers together in an informal environment. This person has worked tirelessly (and I mean that literally) to help others, often with money out of his own pocket. I was so impressed, that I began to volunteer for the parties (and of course network myself). I quickly learned the value of helping others and the interpersonal and professional relationships that come of it. There is pride and a good feeling that comes from watching others succeed. The ability to “pay it forward” is so needed in a world that spent so many years concerned about “me, me, me”. The movement has grown and now I am happy to not only help the jobless, as one of them myself, but help to be an advocate of those millions whose voice is lost in the employed world. People need jobs for their own self respect and each one of us has an obligation to help another who is in that kind of situation. Even after I am employed, I intend to continue to volunteer and help others, something I would have found unimaginable just over a year ago.

Finally..I learned to be a better (future) employee… There is NO DOUBT that I am not the same man who I was a year and a half ago. I now know the value of reaching out to others, of being able to reinvent myself, of having a positive attitude in everything that I do and how it is seen by all. When I started this process, I was almost completely alone in my search other than having my wife with me. Now I have the pleasure of having met dozens of people, of trying to make a change in their lives. I realize I have the ability to pull myself up and not have my job or my paycheck define who I am. I can walk into a new position with more confidence in myself than before, smarter, wiser and much more worldly then I was. I will continue to nurture my contacts and will have a much greater ability to adapt to this ever-changing world. Unemployment is a tough teacher, but maybe I needed to learn some tough lessons. I came out a stronger person, husband and pilot even through such great adversity.

Who WOULDNT want an employee like that?

Todays the Day!



Written by tdwnds1

November 21, 2009 at 7:05 am

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