This guy gets it. Do you?

More fodder from my inbox.

Yesterday, I was very pleased to find the following message in my email inbox (emphasis added):

Maria –

I’m not selling anything…and I’m not asking for anything =) I just wanted to drop a heartfelt “Thanks!” for what you’ve written. I’m a career Navy guy… I retire in a year and a half. I finally started my flight training this past Feb. Now that I’m on shore duty and not at sea, I have the time. Fortunately for me, the GI Bill is covering the cost of my flight training. It really is the realization of a lifelong goal. I *almost* had the opportunity to fly in the Navy, but my 31st birthday fell three weeks prior to receiving my BA. When you couple that with a backlog of Student Aviators pushed back in their training due to Hurricane Ivan, it meant… No age waiver approval for me. The Navy wouldn’t let me fly…

I never gave up though and while I had to put my flight training on the back burner when I was out to sea, it’s finally coming together now. It’s a poor choice for a second career, I know. However, there is just something about flying that draws me in and I can’t see myself doing anything else. I’ve perused the various forums throughout the years and despite all the negativity associated with anything related to pilot jobs… I’m still moving forward. I’m a firm believer that what you achieve in this life is directly proportional to what you put in.

So what’s the point? Thanks for posting up your perspective! Your blog is a goldmine of lessons learned and experience gained. I really enjoy reading it. It’s motivating for an “old guy” like me. Yes, I “get” that I should have started this career 20 years ago but it’s water under the bridge now. In any case, at least I’ll have my retirement pay to supplement the low wages :). Ultimately though, being satisfied with what I do rather than how much I make is what matters most. Thanks again for blogging!


Now that’s what I call the right attitude.

Here’s a guy approaching retirement age — not quite sure what that is for career Navy guys, but I assume it’s past 40. He knows what his passion is. He knows that it’s not the best career choice if money is important. But money isn’t important to him and he’s going after his dream job, knowing that his retirement pay will supplement his pilot income. You have to have a lot of respect for someone like that.

I know I do. He’s in nearly the same boat I was in back in early 2000 at age 38. I was also fortunate enough to have another income to fall back upon as I worked my way up. I was chasing down a dream. Profits didn’t matter — at least at first while that second income was there for me. What mattered was rising to the challenge and doing something I really wanted to do — something I loved.

But what really struck me were the two sentences I highlighted in bold above.

I’m a firm believer that what you achieve in this life is directly proportional to what you put in.

This is the truth. There are many ways to go through life. One way is to “skate,” doing just as much as you need to glide forward on a satisfactory path. (I was married to a skater, although he didn’t think he was. But if he would have turned off the TV once in a while and spent that time learning and doing the things he needed to achieve his goals, he’d be in a happier place right now. I think we both would be. But that, too, is water under the bridge.)

The other way to go through life is to work hard and smart and to stay focused on your goals, doing whatever you need to do to achieve them. It’s not easy and it can be exhausting. I know this. I think Ryan does, too. But the rewards of all this work are worth all the effort.

The more you put into life, the more you get back from it.

Ultimately though, being satisfied with what I do rather than how much I make is what matters most.

This is another version of the old adage, “Do what you love.” If there was any one piece of advice I could give a young person, this would be it. Remember, if you’re not happy with what you do every day, you will not have happiness in life. Only by following your dreams and doing what matters most to you can you be really happy.

This is something I learned back in 1990, when I left a job I hated to start a freelance career. The way I see it, I wasted 8 years of my life. But what followed (so far) were 23 great years doing work I loved and achieving my goals. Ryan understands this, too.

Being happy at work is far better than making a lot of money at a job you don’t like.

Do you understand these things? When you do and you’re not afraid to let it guide your life, you’ll be on your way to a rich, fulfilling life, too.

11 thoughts on “This guy gets it. Do you?

  1. I don’t you if you have ever mentioned the Oddball Pilot Blog, they have all sorts of wisdom about flight training and job opportunities outside of the mainstream CFI to regional carrier to major airline route. They discuss interesting ways to build time and career opportunities at are a little off the beaten path. Although they are primary writing about fixed wing flying I think that an aspiring helicopter pilot would still find it interesting reading. Who wouldn’t want to read about the realities of flying jobs in Africa, Nepal, or Alaska?

    • I know that you have felt the need to be circumspect about the agricultural work you have been doing but it’s just the type of thing that would be a good topic for them.

    • Yes, I thought the same thing when I visited the site. Got a lot on my plate right now; maybe I’ll get in touch with them when I’m less busy. It would be nice to get some helicopter-related content there.

    • They fly R-44s too.

      Perhaps you can consolidate my comments when you moderate,

  2. Thanks for the kind words, Maria! By the way, I just hit 38 y/o two weeks ago :). Your blog has certainly been a bit of an inspiration to me as I prepare for my transition from active duty. While the technical skills I gained in the Navy may not directly translate to those needed as a helicopter pilot, the rest of what I’ve learned certainly does add value. I can’t say I regret making a career out of the service. I did a lot of growing up and have had the privilege of working with some incredibly dedicated and talented folks. Friendships, travel, good times and bad…it’s been one helluva ride. What I’ve experienced and gleaned up to this point has a big role in why I “get it”. The rest, well, that’s just pure old fashioned ambition. =)

    – “Chief”

    • I know exactly what you mean. The older people who “get it,” get it because life experiences have shown them the truth. Sadly, some people never get it.

      And 38 is young! With your background and life experiences, you’ll do fine in this second career.

  3. I think that’s a great attitude! It’s easy to get bogged down thinking about landing that first job after training. I don’t know the specifics of what my first job will be our hope I’ll get there, but I do know that I won’t stop until I am flying professionally.

  4. Bingo! Well said, and I wish Ryan the best. He’s definitely on the right track with his priorities. You and I both know that, Maria, as we do what we love.

    For myself I also don’t think it was a waste of time to work in jobs that I didn’t love, as it helped me appreciate even more how critically important it is to do what I love. I also gained valuable experience in those jobs that I use today with what I do love. BUT… I also didn’t spend very long doing what I didn’t love… I just couldn’t. I had to follow my heart and figure out how to earn a living doing what I love. And that was key, IMO.

What do you think?