In comparison to the entire aircraft, and considering its size, a rudder is an essential component to flight. Whether on the ground or in the air, it is an important part of navigation. In concert with flaps, elevators, and ailerons, the rudder gives the pilot the ability to dance through the air. Although positioned at the rear of the plane, it determines how horizontal direction or heading is achieved. It does its job without much complexity.

Large cargo freighters also utilize rudders at their stern to point the bow of the ship in a direction to avoid underwater obstacles. Through subtle movements left and right, the helmsman can navigate stormy seas by tackling large waves head on. Otherwise, the boat may capsize as it is broadsided by the curl of a wave.

There seems to be a misconception about leaders and managers. In many corporations, a great leader pulls the team in the direction that he/she solely determines is the only way to reach a specific destination. In this case, employees are micro-managed. Creativity and ingenuity fall to the wayside because of the lack of vision that should be shared with middle management. Ego and power decide the fate of the project, not the dividends that a quality job can produce.

In contrast, an excellent manager is behind the team, subtly helping them remain focused on imminent tasks with an eye on the overall goal. Realizing their job is to inspire others to reach their full potential not only gets the work finished, but it also helps instill pride through ownership. The humility of a quality manager lifts the team, and as a result, it distinguishes them for their administrative abilities, making them a desirable commodity.

Leaders and managers are not always the rudders in a team. An individual with a good work ethic, who is humble and has great integrity and insightfulness, can be a silent rudder. Through setting a quality example of doing their duty to meet personal and team objectives, this person can motivate the crew to go beyond their capacity to reach the seemingly impossible goal. Like the helmsman, who is neither captain nor adjutant and can steer a ship to safe harbor due to their experience and expertise, teammates can assist through tips and advice to enhance a project

Be an essential part of your team. Interacting with other humans to get work done does not need to be based on major complexity. Facing one’s own fears to communicate positive reinforcement for good work will make it easier to speak about missed objectives. Open honesty about acceptable achievements mixed with supportive feedback on below par work will strengthen work relationships. Providing assistance where it is needed, in a kind and informative way, builds admiration between employees. This behavior will take team members to the next level of improving working conditions for everyone and tackling more challenging projects. Whether you are a leader or a part of the team, you have the ability to “act like a rudder” and steer you and your colleagues toward success.


When creating a winning team, no matter the job field, it is important that the training provided is consistent and comprehensive. It is equally important that the student understand his or her role in the instruction being presented.

Author David Maraniss, in his book, When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi, explains the fundamental teaching strategy that Coach Lombardi used to lead the Green Bay Packers to five NFL Championship wins within seven years.

At the beginning of each training camp, the coach would introduce the team of seasoned athletes to football with these four simple words: “This is a football.” He talked about the size, its stitching, and the material it is made of. Then, starting at page one in the playbook, the coach covered the fundamentals of football, the size of the playing turf, the basic technics of blocking, and tackling. As professionals, it was incumbent for the players to curb their egos and be attentive during training, gleaning aspects that would improve their individual approaches to their roles in each play of the game.

For aviation personnel, whether you have been in the industry one day or are a Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award recipient, these simple technics can help you and your team get the most out of studying the fundamentals of aircraft maintenance on your airplane.

  1. Appreciate the value that your employer is investing in you by supporting the training. Sometimes training is viewed as a negative, an obligation rather than an opportunity to review fundamentals or advance the entire team, not just the individual taking the class. Educational costs are essential to cultivating a career in any field. Show your gratitude by not squandering the opportunity.
  2. Want to be there. Mentally prepare yourself for the instruction. Aviation maintenance training is knowledge handed from one skilled professional to the next. A proper attitude helps in comprehending the technical content. Do the basics: get your rest so that you are alert and attentive.
  3. Be an active participant who is willing to share. Everyone has experiences that are valuable in the classroom. Sharing and discussing situations that take place in and out of the hangar benefits all, so that a solution can be discovered and implemented.
  4. Be assertive! Just be polite and respectful. Create conversations that allow everyone in the room to hear a different view than the instructor’s. It is important that everyone learns something new – even the instructor. New work-related observations, techniques, troubleshooting, and methods of repair only enhance the fundamentals. Disagreement helps improve training and instructional material.
  5. Cut the cord. Whether it is your phone, a fellow employee, or issues on the job, keep your head in the game. Make the time in the classroom the most important thing happening in your life at that moment so that you can be fully engaged.

From Coach Lombardi’s phrase “This is a football” to your instructor’s introduction of “This is an airplane”, it is crucial to know what is important to you and the team. Create expectations and find ways to meet them. Reviewing the fundamentals will help you b~more in life.


Years ago, while working at an aircraft manufacturing facility, an issue came up with one of the latest produced/finished aircraft. Upon fueling it and performing an engine run according to the checklist, an error occurred with the fuel system. After further diagnoses that required defueling the wing and removing it from the fuselage, the lead tech on the repair team made an interesting discovery; apparently, while the fuel cells were being constructed, someone inadvertently left a soda can in the cell. It was tucked in between the chambers. When the aircraft was fueled, so was the can, clogging the hole between cells, reducing fuel flow. Luckily, the Foreign Object Debris/Damage (FOD) was discovered before the aircraft ever left the apron.

In life, there are many “smoking guns”, that, like the soda can, are not caught. There are aids such as a maintenance/pilot’s checklist, aircraft warning indicators, or performance reviews, which help you reach your max potential. If ignored, something usually goes awry. Self-diagnosis may be as simple as correcting life choices, or it may require disassembling your work habits to see where the indicator light is flashing so that you can make the appropriate adjustments. Finding the FOD in your life is a matter of looking diligently for the smoking gun. Usually, there is a catalysis to poor performance, or there be many; it depends on how often you do a self-evaluation.

There are occasions when you lack the expertise or knowledge to troubleshoot issues. Finding a person with a different perspective can help in redefining goals. The smoking gun, in this case, usually aligns itself with misguided priorities and lack of satisfaction as the result of those choices. Neglecting small aspects in your life can lead to depression. It may cause you to develop a negative attitude to your job, your fellow employees, or home life.

Here are three pieces of FOD that may keep you from getting off the apron:

  • Stress and depression. According to a report, of a study of a group of individuals studied with stress and depression, 48% are more likely to expire due to cardiac arrest. Yet, there are easy ways to help you remove stress so that you can b!~more in your life. Here are a few ideas:
    • Get better sleep. A sound period of rest allows the brain to release stagnate problems, giving you a fresh perspective.
    • Exercise. There are more than enough books that provide information on the benefits of cardio exercise. It is as simple as getting off your “tarmac” and doing it. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that “…adults should accumulate at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity 5 days per week OR engage in 20-minutes of vigorous activity 3 days per week”.
    • CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). This therapy uses communication to work through problems. It is a means to help people remove negative thoughts and focus on positive aspects of their life.
  • Selfishness in relationships. Diane Coutu, of the Harvard Business Review, reported in December of 2007, selfishness is a relationship killer that stifles self-growth. Coutu suggested that we use a softer method of dealing with co-workers and employers, simply by say “yes” more often. Although she acknowledges that, “Individuals in thriving relationships embrace conflict over personality differences as a way to work them through [issues]”.
  • Ignorance is bliss. This phrase is detrimental to the personal growth of the individual and the community in which they interact with each day. Education can reduce the FOD that hinders a person from growing professionally, resulting in a better income for the family and greater work satisfaction. Education of any type stimulates the mind and produces ideas that can be enhanced to improve the quality of life.

The smoking gun of FOD, although small like the soda can, can cause calamities in the long run. Reducing obstructions and debris makes it possible to enjoy life and get you off the apron and into the air.

b!~more (in) life

Stop, Breathe, and Think

Living in a “now, now, now” society, where expectations for instantaneous gratification is high, it is easy to get frustrated when a simple issue becomes a monumental problem. Emotional outbursts are never the solution to the problem. In those moments of unexpected difficulties, it is best to “Stop, Breathe, and Think”. The individual who jumps to unfounded conclusions, usually based on hot-headed responses to a situation, can easily overlook a straightforward answer or create complications that hampers problem solving.

                It is advisable to Stop any action when encountering a new problem. Usually, a recurring issue has an answer that can be reached through education and experience. A new difficulty may require a creative approach or the ability to think outside the box.

                The ability to Breathe helps reduce or remove emotion from the equation. A panicked or hostile outburst often clouds the facts. Negative behaviors also affect the environment, making it difficult for others to assist in creating a solution. A calm demeanor allows open communication, which invites inventive alternatives to overcome hurdles. To reduce frustration, it is important to develop options and be part of a community that will help provide the needed education to subdue conflicts. Whether in the workplace or at home, cultivate an environment filled with solutions and possibilities.

                Think can be broken down into two parts: observation and exclusion. In mathematics, a linear equation is the most direct line to an answer. Yet, this answer is based on ability assets and elimination of variables that do not aid in defining a solution. Logical systematic thinking (troubleshooting) requires going through the “A-B-Cs” of a problem and tracing the failure to its source. In most technical or mechanical machinery, when there is an issue, the “A” would be, “Does the machine have power?” Whether it is an automobile or a high-tech aircraft, an “A” would be an observation in the sequence of questions in discovering the root cause for an engine that does not start. If that is not the issue, then move onto the next. Everyone has a baseline knowledge that helps us make routine observations regarding most problems.

The most important part of solving any problem is to not be ignorant of things that are part of your world. An ounce of education and familiarization brings a wealth of quick and easy solutions to mundane problems. Whenever possible, find ways to broaden your knowledge in linear thinking and troubleshooting; it will increase confidence and decrease annoying troubles.

So, the next time you encounter a frustrating issue, remember to “Stop, Breathe, and Think”.

Hiring Right

Christopher Columbus, believing the world was round, thought the fastest way to India was to set sail westward. Looking for a water route to Asia, he would attempt this feat four times without success. Some political powers of his day would deem the trip a failure because the cost of the expedition was greater than the initial return for the expedition. Spain’s expenses for the trip were comparable to sending a man to the Moon in modern times. Initially, the Moon mission seemed like just a large expenditure of tax dollars for the purpose of bragging rights against the USSR, a bunch of tourists’ “We were here” photos, and a bag of rocks. Yet, when analyzing the return over time, the dividends are exponential. Because of Columbus, Spain laid claim to an entirely new continent filled with riches and natural resources. The Moon mission and space discovery has yielded 63,000 technologies, including the CAT scan, cordless tools, and the famous TANG breakfast drink.

Each day around the world, companies in pursuit of their dreams invest time and money into hiring new employees. Some of those candidates bring raw talent that can be easily cultivated. Others have experience and wisdom that can be appropriated to benefit all. Then, there are workers who have management asking themselves, “Why did we hire this person?”

Let’s first focus on the questionable hire. Many companies desire employees that fit their immediate needs and goals. These firms employ candidates with very little need for investment but have just enough production value so that the company can reach its immediate goal. This can be considered a failed hire because the person feels expendable. Like Columbus with a finite goal, it may take several attempts to hire the correct person before showing a return on time and investment. Therefore, if meeting the objective is the only desire, then residual dividends will be missed.

Typically, a new hire is unable to contribute to a company’s growth if he or she is compelled to perform a mundane job, making them a “punch-in, punch-out” employee. Hidden treasures await a visionary employer that seeks to unearth the potential of its “robot” hires. Cultivating dedication and providing challenges and opportunities for self-edification requires an understanding by both parties. First, the employer must establish the vision. Second, the candidate must be willing to be part of the vision, based on realistic expectations. The effect of such a union can be infectious and create a positive buzz within the company.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said, “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” It is the dream of being more that compelled Columbus to cross the Atlantic. It took collaboration for the Apollo program to reach the moon. From these brave endeavors have come millions of possibilities, jobs, and opportunities. 

Living Up To Your POTENTIAL

The internet is full of videos of people who are disadvantaged, either physically or mentally. These individuals overcome insurmountable odds to accomplish simple daily tasks. Routine things like dressing, eating, and hygiene are chores with many twists and turns that can take hours to complete. Rising above their circumstance, the person with impaired abilities does jobs that some may consider miracles.

The desire to be more can be broken down into the three D’s: destination, desire, and determination.

Destination, or vision, is the first step in any journey to improving one’s situation. Setting small goals and increasing the length and value of each benchmark accomplished can help in fostering good habits. Oftentimes, looking back can be considered negative in the process of rising above a personal challenge. In order to move forward, it is important to look at the destination. However, it can be helpful to see where you were in relation to where you are now. It is good to relish and feel the reward of progress. Keep your feats reasonable to help keep your motivation high. A positive outlook on life is a catalyst for high spirits and enthusiasm.

Desire, or drive to accomplish a task, is a force that comes from within. It is easy to want something in life yet never get past the “thoughts” phase. A teacher can present all the methods needed to finish a job or duty, but without fostering the want to attain a goal, the student may never reach the destination. This adage rings true: “You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink – although, you can salt the oats.” Being content to do nothing and wallow in your troubles is not productive for yourself or those around you. Cultivating a hunger for life brings reasonable and obtainable desires into focus.

Determination is the key to all successes. As with any journey, there are trials and setbacks. Faltering in any endeavor is not failure; it is an opportunity for reflection, learning, and growth. A great example about accomplishing a task is right from the life of Thomas Edison. When asked about his lack of success concerning the light bulb, he said, “I have not failed. I‘ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” It takes perseverance to stay positive in adversity. Yet, it is also vital to be flexible when facing immovable obstacles, much like a boulder in a stream. There are two ways to deal with such barriers. One is to take the easy route and go around; the second is to keep beating on it, wearing it down piece by piece. Each have their issues. Pounding on the rock may take a long time, which you might not have. Going around will save time but could take you down a different path. Therefore, if you are forced to readjust your course, remember to reorient yourself to your desired destination.

When planning a destination, it would be wise to Educate yourself so that you can set the correct goals. Be part of a Community that shares the same vision; this will help you acquire the resources needed to meet benchmarks. Next, find a Mentor that will teach you ways to fine-tune the talents that you already have. Finally, create Partnerships with individuals and organizations to explore unknown opportunities and uncharted horizons.

Living up to your potential is knowing that you can do and be more than what you are today.