You Can Fly … ‘F’ –‘L’ – ‘Y’

F.L.Y. is an acronym and the operative part of my statement that “YOU CAN FLY” – flying is not dangerous; it is crashing that is dangerous; no one ever collided with the sky.

Do you believe that you can fly? Perhaps as a child you did and to your mother’s horror, donned your little Superman / Superwoman cape and leapt from the roof…. Oh and you didn’t fly! A painful lesson to learn that man cannot literally fly. Do you believe that you are a fly? Help me complete this phrase… Busy as a ….. BEE. Flies are busy creatures, but apparently not busy with the right things because they get swatted. Bees are praised for their work, the honey they give us and because they are team players, effective and efficient. So clearly, when I say “You Can Fly” I mean it figuratively.

I am not an aviophobe, no I am not afraid of flying but it is unfortunate that the first instructions that you see when you sit down in a plane are: “life vest under your seat”, “use seat cushion for flotation” and “Fasten seatbelt when seated”. These are not encouraging words. It is also unfortunate that the airport building is called a TERMINAL and that a near HIT is softened to a near MISS. At this point, I wish to introduce my Law of Chicken which is about the fact that chickens cannot fly (they prefer to cross the road), and nor can man (without engineering assistance). But more about poultry in motion later...

The ‘F’ is for ‘Focus Forward into the Future’. It is the pattern of the world that when we conceive a dream, believe in a vision; we achieve the mission and receive the rewards.

It is true, is it not, you guys out there, that when you are driving along and your eyes are captured by a pretty girl on the sidewalk, your car will start to veer off in that direction? So the idea is eyes front! Keep the pointed part of the plane heading forward as much as possible, focus on the end goal.

Sports professional are advised to visualize success – running the race, playing the game, leaping over the hurdles; hearing the fans, the cheers, the applause; receiving the medal, the certificate, the trophy. There will be setbacks and surprises. In the face of all that happens, we need to maintain a sense of humor and use common sense at all times.

Imagine that you are the pilot flying hotel giant, Sol Kersner over a dry, arid, land-locked place and he turns to you states that he is going to create the greatest waterscape, the greatest bird park, and the greatest hotel that the Southern Hemisphere has ever seen… Really, indeed!!! The world is full of outstanding people who in the face of everything stood firm – conceive, believe, achieve, receive. Sol Kersner succeeded!

Take the lessons from the past without getting wrapped up in what might have or could have or should have been; or even ‘we’ve always done it this way’. Two wrongs don’t make a right but two Wrights invented flight. Advancement is such that the wingspan of the 747 (+-66m) is longer than the Wright brothers’ first flight. To look forward into the future we need to use our spectacles, binoculars or telescopes. If we see the end goal we will be empowered to move on and move ahead.

The mind is like a parachute because it must be open to work. In keeping with this thinking, business is more and more embracing open-door policy. It takes time so if at fist you don’t succeed then skydiving is not for you. But seriously, the extent to which we pursue our dreams and embrace our vision, we will succeed.

The ‘L’ is for ‘Leadership and Life-Long Learning’. It is the pattern of the world that when we seek advanced competency with all our hearts, it will come to us in all its strength.

There is no such thing as a born leader or an overnight success. We all are born quite bare of anything. There is an age-old debate of which came first … the chicken or the egg? I cannot answer that, but I can say that communication proceeds management yet leadership is more important, but less common, than management. So let us lead!

My Toastmasters’ mentor passed several years ago but his voice still rings in my ears “Baby Shoes, you can do better!” Roger, sleep well and thank you for teaching me that whenever we think we are perfect or have reached the top, there is always better!

Some leaders came to realize their full potential in their dotage e.g. Abe Lincoln, Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela. Other leaders in their fields realized their full potential in their youth. They had been working at their craft for years e.g. Tiger Woods was playing golf from age 4, Mozart was playing the piano and composing from age 5 and Bill Gates … well, Bill has the thick specs to prove that he worked in front of the computer for hours on end.

In flight, as in life, we cannot propel ourselves forward by patting ourselves on the back. To get ahead and stay ahead takes smart (vs hard) bee-like work and life-long learning. We need to answer the call to leadership and lifelong learning.

In times of greatest need such as war, the greatest leaders will rise up. We need leaders; we need pilots. The propeller is just a great big fan that keeps the pilot cool… if you don’t believe me just switch it off and see them sweat! Whatever hits the fan will not be evenly distributed. We need more leaders (and perhaps less managers).

The ‘Y’ is for ‘You can make a difference’. It is the pattern of the world that when we have exceptional role models, mentors, leaders, we are inspired and aspire to be even better.

How many of you made New Year’s Resolutions? It takes courage to set and state goals. Too often we are afraid to fail so we don’t bother to even try. We need SMART goals… Specific, measurable, action-orientated, realistic, time-bound.

We have some terrific leadership examples: Who will ever forget how FW de Klerk and Nelson Mandela said, ‘NO, enough, let us talk’. They reached out to each other with the greatest weapons of mass construction – their minds, their ears, their voices to build the Rainbow nation, new South Africa. In so doing, they showed the world that in Southern Africa there are the greatest leaders in arbitration, mediation and negotiation.

The founder of Toastmasters International, Dr Ralph C Smedley, when asked why he did not copyright and capitalize on all the material he had created for TI, do you know what he said? He said “I would rather be rich in friends than rich in money and have no regret for what I have done.” WOW!

Your story of where and how YOU will make a difference is perhaps still unfolding or yet to be told. Where you will add value, be a solution to a problem rather that part of a problem, where you will move and shake versus moan and groan. Hopefully it will be the story of ‘Jonathan Livingstone Chicken’. Yes, at last we have returned to my Law of Chicken. You see, man cannot fly and nor can chickens but if you believe you can, then you can! Attitude determines your altitude.

I challenge you to strive to make a difference because remember that flying is not dangerous; it is crashing that is dangerous; no-one ever collided with the sky. Flying does not hurt; gravity hurts (just ask my Anderson cousins, Pamela and Loni). The sky is not the limit; the ground is the limit.

I can summarize in no better way than in the words of R Kelly’s song called “I Believe I can Fly”… If I can see it Then I can do it If I just believe it There’s nothing to it I believe I can fly I believe I can touch the sky I think about it every night and day Spread my wings and fly away I believe I can soar I see me running through the open door I believe I can fly I believe I can fly

Destination known ... Mission possible ... “YOU CAN FLY” !!!

Larna Anderson, Artist, Innovator & Change Leader

Managing Director at The Art of Learning (Pty) Ltd

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