REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT: Why what you leave behind matters as much as what you carry with you

Ahhh, the ole “REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT” keychain tag… it is the true sign of a dorky pilot. Yes, these are my keys. I snagged mine from Signature Flight Support in Austin, TX during my transcontinental flight. As pilots, we know this tag because it reminds us that there is something to remove before we take flight. For non pilots, think of it as a flag that should catch your attention.
As I continue to plan my round the world flight, more and more tasks seem to pile upon me. I welcome them wholeheartedly and while they bring challenges, headaches and sometimes heartache, they are all worth the cost. Every meeting, every plan, every idea takes a level of commitment I never knew I could have!

Monday, I had a very important meeting about planning for the flight. It was the kind of meeting that leaves you with the “holy S@#* this is actually going to happen” feeling. But first, let’s rewind to 1:30pm Monday afternoon…

As I made my favorite drive down to Centennial Airport, I started thinking more about what I wanted to leave outside the doors of the meeting… even more than thinking about what I wanted to bring *in*. I know the goal, I know the plan, and have painstakenly crafted the big beautiful picture. That’s the easy part. As I reached over to grab my purse, I was overcome with fear. Suddenly, my confidence turned into lumpy, dark feelings of “who do you think you are to plan a trip this big” and “you have no idea what you are doing” and “What if they laugh at me for thinking I could ever pull off an accomplishment like this”.

My posture changed, my eyebrows furrowed and that very human response of “I’m not good enough kicked in”. Five minutes ago I was singing along to the radio, dreaming about crossing the Atlantic and then boom… that seemingly natural instinct kicked in. No one is immune to it. It can paralyze you with fear. It can cause you to cancel, make excuses, opt out, take yourself out of the game. Who wants to be that person? The cancel-er, the excuse-maker, the opt-outer? Not me, and surely, not you.

Timecheck: 1:55pm. Meeting: 2:00pm.

I shook my head and focused my mind back on the big picture.

Get yer airplane flyin’ ass in that building and show em what you got. 

We fumble, we delay, we postpone, we procrastinate, we excuse, we convince, we manipulate, we temper, we suck the air out of great ideas because big ideas come with big risk. If you fail at something little, repair comes fast and you probably don’t see a lot of consequence. If you fail at something that matters, big goals, relationships, lifelong commitments, careers, big juicy ideas, the consequences mean something to us. Especially when we assign meaning. Constructing goals that matter because your heart years for them, will give you deep satisfaction when you rock your situation and follow through in your most incredible way.

“If you hear a voice within you say “you cannot paint“, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”
― Vincent van Gogh

“It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not”  -Hanoch McCarty

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage” -Anaïs Nin

If I were pre-flighting an aircraft, I would walk around the sexy beast and remove the little red tags from pitot tubes, the stall warning port, and landing gear pins because they are not needed for flight. They’re protection from cold, from debris, birds, etc. Proetection from the stuff you don’t want to harm your plane when you are not around to care for it.

Consider this… your fears about inadequacy are like your protection from success. They keep you reserved, they keep you on on the ground, far from soaring towards the big stuff you want to accomplish in this one and only life you’ve got.

In your mind, try attaching little “Remove Before Flight” tags to the following self-destructive ideas:

“I’m not good/smart/worthy/attractive/interesting enough to pull this off”- REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT

“Someone else is going to do it better than I can” – REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT and chuck it out the window

“They won’t want to talk to me, care what I have to say, I don’t matter” -REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT and light it on fire

“She/he won’t be interested in me” -REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT and put it down the garbage disposal

These are nonsense statements that we have said to ourselves time and time again, and if you are being honest with yourself, you know how powerful they can be. I can count lots of times where I should have removed these downer ideas about myself and taken the chance and succeeded.

“When we sit down day after day and keep grinding, something mysterious starts to happen… Unseen forces enlist in our cause; serendipity reinforces our purpose” Steven Pressfield

What I propose is this:

The negative ideas and beliefs you REMOVE from your mind are just as important as the positive thoughts you carry with yourself in confidence.

Let’s get something straight… the fear is never going to go away. It will always return just like the little REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT tags before each flight that carries you into the sky. Remove the items that hold you back as if you were working through a checklist. Check check check, before you know it, you are ready to rock, free and easy, confidently heading in the direction of your dreams.

The wonderful Steven Pressfield, author of the War of Art says that, “Fear doesn’t go away. The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.”

Steven also says that , “The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death”

One more for good measure… “Evolution has programmed us to feel rejection in our guts. This is how the tribe inforced obedience, by wielding the threat of expulsion. Fear of rejection isn’t just psychological; it’s biological. It’s in our cells” Steven Pressfield

Get prepared, shed the fear every morning, every minutes, as often as it returns and realize that you are here to do the one thing that calls you more than anything else. For me, it is flying around the world and showing others that anything is possible with the right attitude.

What’s yours? Love, Amelia


4 thoughts on “REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT: Why what you leave behind matters as much as what you carry with you

  1. You my dear Amelia are something so very special. I’m guessing that because of the person you are you don’t see it like those of us that admire and follow you. You have such a passion, such a solid grasp of true priorities, such realness that I tend to forget that you like all of us have your crosses to bare. You do it is such an exemplary way. I said you are a fighter pilot, and you are, but you are more, much more. You are a person with a beautiful soul, an expressive soul and the drive to accomplish what you set your mind to. What a role model you are. Fly safe, and remember, we need you to remind us what true and pure beauty really is. Bless and keep safe the one named Amelia Rose Earhart!

    p.s. if you need a co-pilot, I’m in 🙂

  2. This was a great post and timely. Like your around the world trip I’m currently at what might be called a culmination of my aviation experience. I’m at the Navy’s Test Pilot School. By no means have I ever considered myself a natural for this sort of place. I’ve always considered myself a square peg in a round hole. But I wanted this, I set out for it, and I made it here.

    But let there be no doubt: This place scares the holy living hell out of me.

    There are moments when the fear is paralyzing. Monday mornings during class are the worst, the moments when you think “my God I must be the stupidest person in the room.” There are the times when you slip up and cannot for the life of you remember how to start the damn aircraft that you flew once about a month ago; but you’re expected to figure it out.

    But then come the coping strategies…. Keep moving like a shark. Never lose a moment to keep working on the next thing. Ignorance is a beautiful thing. Ignore the fear, ignore the constant nagging that you might not make it. Ignore the mountain you’re climbing, simply concentrate on the path one foot in from of the other. Every lesson is a gift and I’ll keep learning until you stop teaching. You may kick me out, but I’ll never quit.

    The fear doesn’t go away. It can be buried, you can ignore it but eventually the fear will resurface. Passion counters the fear. The love of aviation; and the need to improve it ever so slightly. I’m not asking to be the next Chuck Yeager, but when I leave the skies the aircraft will be better. Because if not me then who will?

    The world needs more Aviatrix especially those in Colorado;)

  3. I have a second thought about ths wonderful blog. Fear. Fear is the greatest motivator ever if it can be harnessed and controlled. We all have fear. It could be as simple as asking out someone, or as complex as combat. But it is all fear none the less. Having been scared to death more times then I care to remember, I look back and realize what got me through. A laser like focus on the mission at hand. Fear has to take a back seat to the mission at hand if you want to succeed. It is not natural, easy, or comfortable? No, but it is required for mission accomplishment. The desire to succeed(accomplish your mission), will over power the fear. If it does not the outcome of the mission is not in doubt…it will fail. Those who are well trained, focused and mission oriented will prevail because they channel and over come their fear, and are not paralyzed by it. Amelia, you are the poster child for just such an ability!!
    Fly safe


  4. Well ,
    My true calling is in the year 2014 , to leave my country , and move to Deming, NM ,
    to heal people , because I have the ability to heal.
    About you , Amelia , you are sending out a lot of positive and good energy into the Universe ,
    Keep doing that , and about your talk of fear , stay positive , positive thoughts are good energy.
    I know , its sometimes is unrealistic , to be positive , but give it a try.


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