There was a rare event in my life a few weeks back. I received an email from my daughter Samaya :). You see, she is a millennial. She is from the ‘texting’ generation. An email to her is as ‘Snail Mail’ is to most of us now.
Not only did her email warm my cockles as a father, she also wrote very eloquently on a topic that I have been struggling to write about – taking control of your life, your own health.
So without much further ado let me first reproduce her email in its entirety. I have her permission to do this, I wouldn’t dare do this otherwise. :). I will meet you on the other side of her email.
As Khrys and I have worked our way into become UX mentors, I wanted to look back at those moments when I learned tough lessons myself.
Learning something new can be an incredibly humbling experience.
This is why I bring up the time when I learned to fly planes at the young age of sixteen.
In fact I learned to fly before I learned to drive.
Let me explain…
My dad has always pushed me to try new things and not stick to gender norms when it comes to being adventurous.
In fact the year Khrys and I started Ideate Labs was also the year he officially became a flight instructor (if y’all need flight lessons, email me).
When I was sixteen we began flight training together on Saturday mornings. He had found a good deal where we could both learn ground lessons for the price of 1 student.
I spent my last 2 years of high school training to be a pilot. I planned to go to school and get my Mechanical Engineering degree from Carnegie Mellon before going off to be an astronaut for NASA.
That was my dream at eighteen, but also my dad’s dream for me.
Flight training involves learning emergency procedures, such as power on stalls, power off stalls, engine failure simulations, emergency landing simulations.
It was intense but also incredibly exhilarating.
One of the basics of flight training is who is in control.
It was either my controls. That means that I’m controlling the plane.
Or it was my instructor’s controls. He was controlling it.
We had to hand of controls clearly as well.
“Your controls,” he would say to me.
“My controls,” I had to repeat back.
I was in charge. My controls.
It was a huge weight of responsibility to be given control of a Grumman Tiger at the age of sixteen. Tail number 9550- Uniform.
But it was my controls. Even through I was just learning, I was gaining confidence every time I said, “My controls.”
I was also earning the responsibility of flying that plane every time I said it because confidence should never turn to cockiness.
I repeat confidence should never turn to cockiness.
It was never okay to think you have completely mastered something.
That’s where your ego takes over.
In flying you’ve got to be constantly vigilant, constantly aware of your surroundings.
Good situational awareness.
To this day, my dad watches Day 1 flight lessons to remind himself not to make common mistakes.
He’s had more than 10 years of training and experience but he remains humble in the face of preparation.
Preparation for anything.
So why am I telling you all this?
Because it’s your controls.
You are in control of your life.
You can fly towards any goal or any vision that you set for yourself.
You’ve just got to believe that you can do it.
Your controls. Your controls. Your controls.
Don’t ever let the imposter syndrome take over. Don’t ever let anyone else tell you what you are or aren’t capable of.
If you’ve seen me, you know that I am the least intimidating person you will meet 🙂
I’m short and I’m soft spoken and I certainly don’t look like a pilot.
But I’ve gotten confident in my capabilities, my controls.
And yet I know I also have to stay humble.
Keep my ego in check. Always.
Sometimes when we learn something new, we can’t seem to take our guard down. We still have to seem like we are an expert or someone with a vast breadth of knowledge.
That’s the ego.
Sometimes you also have to give up control to learn something new, change your old ways.
Sometimes you have to say: “Your controls.”
This is when you need help, when you need someone else to take over.
There is no harm or shame in that.
When something got too hard or I felt extreme stress while practicing an emergency procedure, I would have to communicate it to my instructor.
“Okay, my controls,” he would say.
“Your controls,” I would repeat back.
I was always relieved in these moments and humbled by how much more I still had to learn in my flight training.
In truth, the learning never ends.
Today I want you to think about 2 things:
Your controls. What do you choose to control in your life? What do you choose to take ownership and accountability for?
Our controls. What do you choose to let Khrys and I show you and teach you? What help do you choose to let into your life?
Your controls. Our controls.
Ok… so I am back. First, a proud parent shoutout – this is an email Samaya sent to her followers worldwide, she is a co-founder of a very successful education startup called Ideate Labs. Check them out!
As you know, I have been writing about how Patients are not really part of the conversation about matters related to their own health. How they fall off the wagon, fail to comply with their Care Directives. How they need help…
We can seek and get all the help, but in the end…we need to take charge of our own health. Our Controls.