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Advice From Amelia: Calm Skies Don’t Make for Skilled Pilots

Bird flying in stormy sky

This post is the third in a series by around-the-world pilot and motivational speaker Amelia Rose Earhart on behalf of Brightwood College.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could somehow learn all of life’s important lessons without having to make the mistakes ourselves?

I’ve always wished I could learn new information the way our phones schedule software updates… overnight, while we sleep soundly. Most of the time when these improvements take place, we probably don’t even know what the phone has learned; all we know is that our phones work better than they did.

Unfortunately, our brains and hearts can’t simply download understanding and experience; these qualities are supplied through effort, failure, course correction and in the end, maturity. Sometimes, it takes two or three mistakes or challenges to steer us toward a more clear flight path. The roughest, darkest, most challenging days are the ones that help us learn the most. This is true in the cockpit, in business, in relationships, in fact, I can’t think of a single example of a turbulent experience when I didn’t come out stronger in the end.

It’s tough, sometimes it’s nearly impossible, to envision blue skies when you’re endlessly circling in a stressful storm. Trust me, I’ve been there before, wishing I would have never launched in the first place. Once you’re there, you may as well extract as much understanding and life lessons from these times and continue moving forward, especially if you have made the commitment to yourself to finish.

If you ask yourself the question, “would I want to fly with a pilot who had never flown through turbulence before?” I bet your answer would be a resounding “NO!” We only want to trust our safety to those who have been in tough situations before. They have proven that they have what it takes to stick with a goal and push forward, regardless of the fear they may be facing. Experience builds trust, not only for others around us, but in our own ability to pull through and forge ahead.

The roughest, darkest, most challenging days are the ones that help us learn the most.

As you progress along your journey, you’ll inevitably wish there was a shortcut to fast track you from the start line to the finish, skipping all the complicated twists and turns in the middle. When storms stand in your path in the form of a school-life balance, a conflict with a member of your team or just the feeling that it would be easier to give up, remember that these experiences will seem like tiny blips on the radar in the future. Shortcuts are tempting, but long-term you’ll find the more meaningful and character building path comes from digging in, hunkering down and learning the material, the lesson, the resolution.

Again, experience builds trust, not only for others around us, but in our own ability to pull through and forge ahead.


About Amelia Rose Earhart

Named by the Jaycees as one of the “Top Ten Young Americans”, Amelia Rose Earhart recreated and symbolically completed the 1937 flight of her namesake, Amelia Mary Earhart. Her 28,000-mile flight around the world in a single engine aircraft, the Pilatus PC-12NG, became a symbol of determination, courage and empowerment for anyone who has ever decided to seek new horizons.

Amelia is the president of the Fly With Amelia Foundation, a non-profit providing flight training scholarships to young women across America. She can be seen each morning on Denver’s NBC affiliate, KUSA-TV reporting on breaking news and traffic, is an active member of the Board of Directors at Wings Over the Rockies, Colorado’s Official Air and Space Museum, and is currently working toward her multi-engine aircraft rating. Amelia produces a weekly segment on STEM Education, which can be enjoyed each Friday on Denver’s NBC TV station.