We have heard the word “no” our whole lives. From the time we could crawl or walk, no was a part of life. In those early years, it was meant for our good…teaching us the boundaries of what to do and what not to do. At some point, however, it ceased being something used as a part of instruction, and instead was used, inadvertently, to kill the dreams and aspirations of many. For some of us, as we became adults, or even as teenagers, proving “we could” when we were told “we couldn’t” was a way to show our independence. This also labeled one a rebel.
Many times in my life, I had been told that I could not do something…I was too old, I didn’t go to college, I didn’t have enough money, I was bad luck, I was trouble…and at some point, you start to believe it. It’s easier to believe what you can’t do rather than what you can do. I struggled to find my purpose in my early years, and therefore, was constantly in trouble. I was literally headed in the wrong direction. I didn’t believe in myself and didn’t have anyone that believed in me. At the age of 28, I found myself working at a small airport in Connecticut, fueling and cleaning jets and helicopters. It wasn’t a bad job, I suppose, but I knew I wanted more. I observed the lifestyle of the pilots of these aircraft and decided that was what I wanted. It took me some time to muster up the courage to ask one of these pilots how I could become one of them…these are Naval Academy graduates and former military officers. He proceeded to ask me how old I was and where I went to school. He didn’t like my answers and told me to forget about it. This is where the power of no comes in. I was not going to let his no dictate my life. I did find someone who was willing to show me the steps and direction for what turned out to be the game changer towards my dreams. It took me three years and working three jobs, but I got my helicopter pilot’s license. Not only that, I went on to the airlines, got my license to fly jets, eventually making captain, then flying private jets and Sikorsky helicopters. This path has lead me toward the distinction of being a dual-rated ATP (Airline Transport Pilot). What that essentially means is that I have something equivalent to a PHD in aviation. I recently learned that out of 800,000 licensed pilots in the United States, I am in a select group of less than 2,000 who are dual ATP’s. I am humbled, and at the same time, proud, that I have come this far and that I didn’t listen to the voice of no.
Although no is a small, two-letter word, it packs a powerful punch. It can crush you or push you! It’s a choice whether you let it destroy your dreams or whether you use it to motivate you in finding your purpose…and “when you find your purpose, you will find your passion.” No pushed me toward my dream of aviation, and because of that, I have found new dreams and passions in my life. What’s holding you back?