Why Are We Here?

    Lately, I've had a few flying clients, all north of 50, and a couple much more "mature" than that, who have set out to learn something very difficult in an aircraft. I greatly admire these “late-in-life learners." Whether the new thing they want to learn is helicopter flying, getting an instrument rating, checking out in a fire-breathing single, or taming the latest digitalalia, the challenge is very real -- and very big — for them. 

    As an instructor though, it's important to help the client figure out the real reason why they've presented themselves for the instruction — which isn’t always the obvious one.

    Puzzling this out isn't easy. But in fact, it might be the most important thing. Figuring out the “why” is critical if you want to help them reach their true goal. For some, that goal might be proving to themselves — or someone else — that they are (still) capable of “conquering” the difficult aircraft or the confounding electronics. For others, the real reason for their quest might be to learn something new, to stay stimulated and challenged in a life that offers fewer opportunities for this as they age. And for a fairly large percentage, it might be all about learning how to act under pressure, to learn how to conquer their fears, or their anxiety when flying. That’s actually pretty common. 

    If we ignore the “real” reason and focus solely on the apparent one, i.e., the new aircraft type or the new rating, then the opportunity for growth is missed. Often, the client struggles, seemingly with the “new thing,” when the real struggle is with the self. A good instructor’s job is look deeply for this, to look beyond the purported reason for the instruction; and to become intimate with the deeper motivation of the client, so that he or she can help in reaching both the “real” goal, and ultimately, the alleged one, as well. 

    It’s always tough work. But I really love the process. 

    So, why are YOU (really) taking on that next challenge?



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