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PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, 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. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Just Keep Breathing

T.H.ursdays with Tom Hill
Tom's First Night In Acadia National Park

"It’s been a struggle this week writing my article for Karlene. You see, I’ve been working on a subject that truly can go anywhere. It’s about change and when it is right to make a change. The challenge is, if I mastered that subject, I would be able to give a cookbook answer: "In this situation do that. Unless it’s that situation, then do this.” You know -- a recipe to follow so you know when to change and when not to. 
Unfortunately, I don’t have “change” down like that. In fact, it’s been so exasperating trying to figure out my article that it’s been raising the pressure on whether I’d get it done for Karlene on time. Well, despite all that, I had an epiphany this week while struggling: “just keep breathing.” In other words, just get to writing and it’ll all work out.

Even though I moved my work from New Mexico to California in August, I didn’t take any time off to decompress from one job before the next began. Fortunately for me, the new bosses in California at the Test Pilot School didn't mind me taking a vacation not a month after I started so that I could check out the leaves in New England. That’s where I am right now. 
The whole time I’ve been out here, driving across Michigan, Ohio, New York, New England, and up to Maine, I’ve been thinking about my article, change. I wrote a few pages containing thoughts that really weren’t coherent enough to make a full article. The funny thing is, even though I have good confidence I can decide when to make a change and when not to--I think that comes from having reasonable judgement--I still can’t really explain it. As some might say, I know it when I see it. That’s not the same as saying I can teach it.
I think my issue runs parallel with our recent discussion concerning the loss of real situation-based training opportunities for pilots. That discussion was about how to explain why such training is important to people who don’t understand piloting in the first place. 
While these decision-makers might know conceptually what a pilot does, unless they’ve got piloting experience themselves, it’s hard for us to articulate what they need to know in such a way as to give them relate-able references, or connections they can understand. It’s hard to put into words what we know to be true. Well, I’m having the same struggle with trying to write an article about when to know when it’s time to change. I know how I deal with change, but I realize I can’t really explain it the way I want.

I’m in Acadia National Park just now. Because of the government closure, the park is practically deserted. If you can walk, you can enjoy the park in a most individual manner--i.e., there aren’t any crowds if you hoof it. While walking along the Eagle Lake carriage trail last evening, my mind was wandering between the article I’ve been struggling with and a couple of issues I’m tackling at home. I was thinking of one possibility, then another, then another. None of them were getting anywhere.

As I walked along the trail, I was getting frustrated at not being able to figure it out. Just when I realized I wouldn’t be able to solve anything, just then, something dawned on me: 
“When in doubt, just keep breathing.”

What this meant to me was don’t over think this stuff. Secondly, not everything is solvable, so don’t worry if you can’t explain everything. Not everything CAN be explained. Thirdly, if you think too far down the road--i.e., over-think things--you’re likely to frustrate yourself. This will not help solve your problem. Next, to combat this type of over-thinking, remember to be in the moment. Simply take one step at a time, one foot in front of the other. As a reminder, breath in... and out... breath in... and out...

Why does this simple thought make me smile? I have been taught this before and I happened to relearn it on my own. It’s my experience things usually just work out. If you stay engaged by taking one step at a time, things work out one way or another in a relatively good way. While they may not resolve themselves in an expected manner, they work out as a general rule. The key points are staying engaged and not over-thinking. In other words, just keep breathing. The cool thing about “just keep breathing” is you can apply it in so many ways, anytime you need to calm down.

I’m still working on that article about change. It might take a while to finish. Even if I don’t finish it, it will be fine. I’ll keep working on it as I can. In the meantime, I’ll remind myself to take one step at a time and to keep breathing.


Thank you Tom! I'm not worried...change will come, whether you want it to or not. 
There have had many times where I just had to take wake up and breath. I had to take each day as it came, dealt with what I had to, and remembered to just keep breathing. "Hold on for one more day, things will go your way." Tom is correct...there is nothing that has not worked out. It always does. I have to remember that, and you should too.

Today I am in Mumbai and heading back to Amsterdam on the tail end of my trip.... looking forward to being home and sleeping in my own bed. 

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene


  1. Karlene, same to me. You know it...

    Great post, Thomas!


  2. Excellent post Tom, and something that's worked well for me so far!



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