My Mom’s a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines and she makes those great announcements. My favorite being the one for the oxygen mask, where she’ll explain that in the case of a sudden loss of cabin pressure you should place your mask on first and then assist your child. And If you are traveling with more than one child you should pick your favorite or the one with the most potential.
Now, most of us don’t give those announcements a second thought. But that wasn’t the case for a Southwest flight last week that boarded from New York to Dallas.
Tammie Jo Shults was the hero that day. She was the 56-year-old pilot that had been rejected by the Air Force, that had faced numerous obstacles from the Navy. Yet, before being a pilot at Southwest went on to become one of the first female fighter pilots in the Navy, the first woman to fly an FA-18 Hornet, and one of the first women to be a military instructor before joining Southwest.
Now Tammie Jo Shults is the epitome of grit and resilience. It’s not that she wasn’t scared, I’m sure she was absolutely terrified. But she put it in the work. She trained for thousands of hours in scenarios just like that so that she could rely on muscle memory to help her in a situation when she needed it the most. Our fear and anxiety shrinks our working memory and makes it more important than ever that time and effort to prepare for what’s most important.
That translates to every area of our life. Now Tammie Jo Shults did something that most of us don’t do. She didn’t give up when she was told “No”. She was blatantly told ”No”, she was told to get out, she was made fun of, she was given a hard time. But she persevered because her goal was important enough.
Sometimes when we face limitations the only difference between the people who have grit and perseverance and resilience are that they refuse to give up! It reminds me of the Pike Experiment. It was done 1942 at the Wolf Lake hatchery in Michigan.
Scientists put a giant carnivorous fish, a Pike, into a tank full of minnows. And of course, as expected, the pike ate the minnows. Then the scientists put more minnows in the tank only this time they put them in a glass cylinder so the pike could see them but it couldn’t get to them and kept banging its head into the glass over and over again. Until finally the scientists released the minnows, letting them swim freely around the tank where the pike just sat on the bottom and starved to death. It just gave up. And that’s become known as the “Pike syndrome”.
Now it might not be a glass cylinder, but we are all victims of the “Pike Syndrome”. Our fear, our self-limiting beliefs create these imaginary barriers that we’re convinced we can’t break through and it’s easy to give up and assume that there’s not another option. But there is!
You see we are either green and growing or we are ripe and rotting. If we’re not getting better, we’re getting worse. What are you doing to break through self-limiting barriers? What have you always told yourself you wanted to do but were afraid to try?
Because if you think about it, JK Rowling, Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Henry Ford, all of these incredible people became successful because they failed first! And had Tammie Jo Shults not failed and been told she wasn’t even able to be a pilot she would not have gone on to become the hero that she did last week.
Sometimes we have to get out of our own way. We tell ourselves things like I could never start my own business which is what I used to tell myself all the time quite frankly. Until 2011 when my son spent two months in the psychiatric Hospital and we lived at the Ronald McDonald house and afterward I figured you know, if I can do that I can do anything. And I was right!
Most of us stop ourselves from succeeding. And it’s not that we don’t have grit, and it’s not that we don’t want to persevere, it’s that we let ourselves get trapped instead of breaking through to become what we can truly be! Until we release our potential and until you fail a few times, you won’t know what that is.
So, I am incredibly grateful that my mom was not on that flight. But I know she will keep making those hilarious announcements, because that’s how my mom rolls!
I hope that you’ll take some risks this week, I hope you’ll get out of your comfort zone, I hope that you will be green and growing, and the next time you are scared or have fear or anxiety remember Tammie Jo Shults this incredible bad-ass who taught us what it means to truly have grit and resilience.
I hope you have a great week, I hope you break through barriers keeping you stuck, and keep me posted on how you’re doing. Check out AnneGradyGroup.com for more articles, for information, and to leave comments on the web site.
I “LUV” this story and I “Luv” Anne Grady Group! Your expertise on the topic of resilience is profound, applicable and timely! Brilliant!
Thanks, Anne! If anyone knows how important resilience and grit are to SW Airlines, its you!