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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

Type rated on A330, B747-400, B747, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Help! I Have to Pass the Test!!

Hark the Heralds Angels cry... 
"I need help!"

Last week I received a message that went something like this...

I have 12 months to study all 9 subjects.... and I have to get my slot at first (life demands it) and it's for a very very very hard university. It's the best aviation university in the country. I want SO much my slot that I get anxious.
Because I haven't been to school for a year, I’ve lost my concentration, focus and attention - I have the "I don't have time" syndrome. I get anxious thinking I won't have time to revise it and only makes things worse.

I am a synesthesic student. I need movement, colors and a specific lighting so I can learn. Sometimes remembering a specific tune beat and associating with a successful complex calculation formula will boost my attention. The thing is... Synesthesia is the hardest way to learn in my case. Because I am very peculiar and I cannot change this.

No Worries!

Seriously... don't worry!

Three things that impeded success are the evil twins worry and fear, and their cousin doubt.

We only have so many brain cells and when our mind is needed to focus in order to learn something, you cannot have it playing with doubt, fear or worry. 

Think of your brain as having 100% capacity to achieve anything. We'll pretend you have 100 brain cells. If you are studying and worry about something, you've just given 50 of your brain cells away to worry, losing 50% capacity. Worry never works alone.

Fear gets involved because while you worry you fear what will happen if you fail and don't get into school. Fear will take another 25 of your brain cells. Then you begin to doubt your ability, and you use another 25. You have lost your capacity to learn.

How many brain cells do you have remaining for retention and study? None.

Did you know stress and anxiety physically impedes learning by Killing Brain cells?

The point is...if you use even one brain cell to worry about something that might not are headed down a path to manifest that destiny.

How do you not worry? Don't do it! If your mind drifts simply tell yourself, "I choose not to think of that now, I'm too busy."

Movement for learning? I am the same way! I have taught myself to balance on the elliptical trainer, hands free, so I can read.  I put music in my ears and read while in motion. I often have noise in the background in my office, as it helps force me to focus. In silence my mind wanders. I need bright lights. (This part has to do with age) 

The point what you need to do for you. But motion with music is an excellent way to retrain data.

Here's The Deal....

No excuses. Have discipline and do it! You can do anything for 12 months. Keep focused, and there is nothing you can't do!

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene


  1. We all have very different learning styles. IMO the key ti to KNOW your own and you do. The rest is just making the time - not finding but making. If a few things have to be reduced, you can do that. You have done the GRE before (how many times?) and you know that it is not that bad. Before you know it, we will address you as Doctor Captain Petitt!

    1. You know... Making is the key for sure!

      Now that GRE... 30 plus years since I've done that math. But... I will study. One problem at a time. "AFTER" I put Flight For Safety to bed. lol

    2. Fuss not Karlene. We both know that you will prepare well and do just fine. Your bones know no other way. And you have a huge team cheering for you.

    3. Lol... now we have to get my brain on that same plan. :) Guess what... I'm FINISHED!!! Whooo Hooo!!!

  2. Great Advice!

    You are exactly right in not thinking about anything except the task at hand. Put one foot in front of the other and eventually you will be there.

    Last night was my LOE, type ride. I was prepared and confident. But right off the bat my Captain and I got hit in the teeth with problems. Most check rides slack off after the initial hit, but last night the hits never slowed. It was problem after problem, constantly cracking us in the face and body.

    It was brutal. I have been flying for 24 years and never had a check ride so unfair. Several times in the sim I thought we might be in trouble. My Captain later said that he thought the same. Both of us quickly drove that negative thought from our minds. Focused on what was next, and fought back.

    It sucked, and not until the motion was over and the examiner said we passed. The I started to get ticked off, because it was cruel and unusual punishment.

    When life gets tough, you have to fight back. That is the only way because to quit is to quit. I have been there before and will be again, I know the feeling of the person who sent this e-mail to you. There is nothing abnormal about the way they feel. Life just plain sucks sometimes, but you cant quit. Life isn't a video game where you can hit re-set and start over.

    You keep on going, keep pressing forward in spite of the flood of current that keeps knocking you down. If something is worth fighting for, it is doubly worth having. One day you will be past this point in life and will have other challenges. These new challenges will still suck, but you will have the confidence to continue because you didn't quit. You will be able to fight harder because you know what it feels like to fight.

    Embrace the suck because fight or quit, it will still suck. Might as well fight back and die with honor.

    1. Rob, I am so glad you passed. And those checkrides that do that to people... not sure if learning is taking place and they're losing site of what they're doing. But you did it. And... you are armed with the knowledge of when it's time to fight back.
      You're going to love Flight For Safety. Wait until you read about Darby's checkride. :)
      Happy Holidays!

    2. @Rob: Sorry to butt in here, but I think you nailed it head on. When the stuff hits the fan, deal with it and move on. Those LOE/SIM checks are brutal and intentionally so, just to prove that the ability is there if needed. The daily tasks are far more pleasant. And to be clear, spoken from the armchair, not the cockpit. You did it and apparently quite well. Congratulations. Move on, but please do not relax... Our dear friend Karlene will tackle her newest chosen task with her typical vigor. Those who have been reading her for x+ years know darn well that she will nail the task with glory; she knows no other way! -C

  3. Well said!
    Whether it's a theory exam, a simulator session or a flight test, we only have a finite capacity that needs to be used where it's needed.
    Good luck!

    1. Thank you so much Owen. Yes... we need to grasp the power of our brains and use them only for good! lol. Kind of like super heroes they are!
      Happy Holidays!


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