My wife and I took an incredibly relaxing and enjoyable vacation the first week of October to Cabo San Lucas, which is located right on the southern tip of the Mexican Baha Peninsula. We celebrated us, and the joy of 35 years of marriage. It seems like just yesterday when (with more hair and less belt) I was a young stud second lieutenant getting married in the little chapel at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi where I was attending pilot training. I remember having intimate discussions with my bride about whether or not we would still be in love 30 years down the road and wondering what that would be like. Well, that marker has passed and, yes, we’re still in love—more now than ever. It was a choice we made early on and we have never wavered from it.
All of that gets me to thinking about some of the choices we make along life’s journey. For years I have held the belief that everything I have done or had done to me, every choice I have made, and every action I have taken, has led me to who and where I am today. Certainly, I have lamented about some of my choices, but I wouldn’t change the vast majority. Even some of my bad choices turned out to hold great lessons that have served to shape and direct me to the person I am today.
I remember flying across the Pacific Ocean one night between Anchorage, Alaska, and Hickam AFB, Honolulu, Hawaii. There were a billion stars in the sky and the Milky Way was displaying how it got its name. Somewhere in the middle of nowhere, the navigator keyed his microphone to tell me that we were experiencing “minimum navigational aids.” In short, the electronics were not working consistently (we didn’t have the magic of GPS in those days), and in addition, the sextant he used to “shoot the stars” had developed a broken seal. The use of the sextant was usually a tried-and-true backup to all things electronic, but not this night. I was used to getting occasional input from the navigator that went something like this: “Pilot, this is nav, come right one degree.” Perhaps another hour would go by before he would key the mic again and say, “Pilot, this is nav, come right one degree.” Now, one degree out of 360 doesn’t seem like much, but over the course of a couple thousand miles, without that constant course correction odds are you could be the next Amelia Earhart and ruin your whole day.
The point of this story is that it’s the little choices we make every day that bring us to where we are right now.
I would argue that regardless of our personal circumstances, we are each responsible for the choices we make. I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth, and I will never be rich in the classic sense. Yet because I have chosen to take responsibility for my own choices and not blame other people for when things do not go my way, I feel empowered and blessed to enjoy my life today.
I am one of those people who believe that God created me for a purpose; that I am not a mistake or a piece of sentient cosmic dust whose ancestors crawled up out of the primordial slime and somehow “decided” to morph into becoming homo sapiens. Because of that, I feel a sense of responsibility that is tied to my life’s purpose. And so it is that I want to make a difference in the world today—maybe not on the global world stage, but certainly within the little world in which I live and breathe, both personally and professionally.
We are at the time of year when, for some, the bitterness of broken relationships and regrets for things lost combine in a heartless way and make the season anything but bright. For others, it is a time for self indulgence (“Hey, I deserve that new … whatever”), and for others, it is a time to reflect on the beauty and richness of life, and what it means to have friends and family who have contributed to the tapestry of their lives and helped shape them into what they are today.
Whoever you are and whatever you attribute your life to, my encouragement to you is this: consider the little one-degree choices you make today. Ask yourself, “If I choose this, is it possible that I could miss my ultimate desired destination, or will it take me closer to landing on solid ground and bring me the satisfaction of knowing that I traveled life’s journey well?”
About the blogger:
John E. Trombley, organization development consultant and training with The Village Business Institute has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and a Master of Management degree from the University of Mary, Fargo. Prior to founding his own organization development company, John served as a Command Pilot, Squadron Commander, and senior staff officer in the USAF and Air National Guard—he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel with over 6,200 flying hours.
With over 16 years of experience in providing consulting services and training programs, Trombley has a passion for group process facilitation and corporate training in areas including leadership development, change management, leadership transition processes, managerial coaching, and personality assessment workshops. He is registered with the Supreme Court of the State of Minnesota as a Qualified Neutral mediator, is trained in Critical Incident Stress Management Group Crisis Intervention, and is certified in Internal Investigations by the Council on Education in Management.
For more information, contact The Village Business Institute at 1-800-627-8220 or www.thevbi.com.