There is no I in team and other motivational considerations

Jamie Beckett is a CFI and A&P mechanic who stepped into the political arena in an effort to promote and protect GA at his local airport.

I suspect there is not a single man in America who hasn’t heard a coach bellow through the locker room, “There is no ‘I’ in ‘team,’ gentlemen!” Winning or losing, at the beginning of the season or during half-time of the championship game, that expression is perfectly suited to the occasion. And if we weren’t there to hear the speech personally, we got the news through the grapevine, or from a friend, or via a movie of the week that used the phrase as a motivational hook designed to prop up a less than Shakespearean story line.

The point is, sports metaphors pop up in our non-sporting lives for a reason – they make sense. As hackneyed as these expressions of get-up-and-go may be, they carry a simple, easily conveyable message. Each of us has to think and act in the best interest of the team if we’re going to become a truly functional unit that has the ability to achieve our goals. That’s as true for the aviation community as it is for any team in contention for the Super Bowl or the World Series or the World Cup.

Most of us know that to be true. I know the community is aware, because I am fortunate enough to receive e-mail from readers as a routine part of my work week. With each new column it seems I find myself on the receiving end of a series of comments posted to the General Aviation News pages, or a collection of e-mails to my inbox, all extolling the virtues of aviation and the writer’s heartfelt belief that GA should receive more respect in the world. I read each one without fail, and I respond to quite a few, as well.

I agree wholeheartedly, or course. But at the risk of alienating some of the more sensitive members of the readership, I would like to share a suggestion of my own and offer a motivational message for the consideration of the full community. I sincerely hope it will be received in the spirit it was intended.

While we can all agree that there is indeed no I in team, it would be in our own best interest to recognize that there is no I in they, either. And that is the Achilles heel of any political or social movement – the belief that, “they” ought to do something about the inequity, inequality, indecision, or intrusion into our civil rights that is causing angst and strife. In truth, we are they, and until we individually pick up the gauntlet and carry the fight for our future forward, we will fail to achieve our goals, just as surely as the team whose members fail to recognize that their individual contributions and behavior have a profound effect on the outcome of the game.

Yep, it’s that simple. If you’re waiting for “them” to help you with pretty much anything, get comfortable. You’re going to be waiting a good, long time.

I realize that most people have real hope of seeing political and social change over the course of their lives. And I realize that most of us have no interest in getting involved in the political struggle that it takes to cause real change to occur. But the reality is that we all have a role to play, and in order to be successful, we all have to be pulling in the same direction, more or less.

So this year, as our natural tendency to make New Year’s resolutions gets closer, let me challenge each of you to take a moment to consider what you can do to be a bigger and more beneficial member of our team. Maybe you can speak to school groups about the importance of general aviation, or maybe you can write an editorial to your local paper every few months, praising the virtues of GA. Perhaps you can get out there and run for political office, with GA as an integral part of your message – or maybe you can get behind a candidate who has an understanding of aviation with your checkbook, your voice, and your vote. Whatever your comfort level is, I challenge you to find that limit and go just slightly beyond it in 2011. Don’t wait for them to fix what’s broken – do it yourself.

If it’s true that to get anything done right you have to do it yourself – and that almost certainly is true to at least some degree – then I hope you will take your place on the front lines, stake out your territory, and become a part of the team that we need on the field if we are ever going to establish aviation as the leader in industry, transportation, education, technology, and community that we all know it can be. Do it yourself! Do it better than “they” ever could.

Let’s all do it together. If it helps, you can think of it as our Christmas present to each other, and to ourselves. We deserve at least that much, don’t you think?

You can reach Jamie at


  1. says

    Several years ago,I had a “run in” with the a state agency, and as a result, my “retirement” was moved up about ten years. Frankly, I was quite indifferent about politics, but as a “victim” of an abuse of government power,I learned,at age 60,that it pays NOT to oppose, but rather convice the “powers the be”,that YOUR cause is beneficial to the GENERAL populace! Since statistics show that only about 1 in 1,400 US citizens have a need or want fo “GA”, it seems to me there are only TWO solutions:1.”SELL” the other 1,399 2. Sell the other 1,399 WITHOUT them knowing it! Without offending the “liberal” supporters of GA, I offer a simple and “slicker” approach. Over the years,I have done investigative reseach on various GA airports ranging from single runway to multiple runway facilities to find WHY
    some are well received by the “community” (public owned)while others are liabilities to the aiport authority and the community. To start with, airports are very expensive chucks of inefficient real estate and aviation is a very high “fixed costs” industry. During my research, I have discovered that more airports than not, have at LEAST 50% of non-income producing property not being ultilized for airside operations such as runways,taxiways,ramps,hangars,terminals,
    etc. Back in the 60’s, the concept of the Industrial Airpark was being pushed; business + airport = ECONOMIC BENEFIT to the ENTIRE community, albeit, ARP’s(avaition retail providers) and AC’s, or the aviation consumer;pilots, aircraft owners,ect. Has anyone reading this so far picked up on the strategy yet? OK, here’s a “real life ” senerio; Your airport has been the continued target of the local political due to the fact as one councilman put it,”We don’t think the TAX payers of Rust City should keep the airport open for a handful of weekend pilots”! “Counter attack” plan # 1. A non-pilot, yes I said non-pilot, approaches the economic developemnt authority OR the recreation and parks department or BOTH for a meeting to have the EXCESS land NOT being used for direct (infrastructure)by the airport with a master plan for a COMBINED industrial/public park concept.The NEXT meeting, assuming the “idea” was well received, an aviation person, preferrably the owner who ulitizes his aircaft for business purposes; leave the “recreational” guy at home – we know he will come later, much later. The community fathers and the other “1,399” citizens NOW see a benefit for what was a “liability” now has
    become a BENEFIT to the general populace AND the minority of avaition folks incidently,in the order! What I’m trying to simlpy say is this;
    THE MAJORITY and the MINORITY WINS – a WIN-WIN for all!

  2. Kent Misegades says

    Nice column Jamie. Someone needs to tell the man in the White House he’s overusing the first person singular pronoun, too. But that’s off-topic:

    Another organization that is often overlooked is your state’s Airport Association. Nearly all states have these, and anyone can join, sometimes for a small fee, sometimes hefty. One thing I have learned as a member of the North Carolina Airport Association is that decisions regarding airport developments often have little to do with the needs of pilots and rarely are the result of pilot input. Much of what transpires is a result of the latest Federal government meddling of our lives, the result of massive D.C. bureaucracies looking to impose “solutions” on problems that do not really exist. For instance the purported, but unproven, negative effects of leaded fuels that our aircraft use (which could be greatly mitigated through the expanded use of Mogas, if it contained no ethanol, but that’s another result of our benevolent government screwing up another free market) . Other recent Federal aviation issues “du jour” are non-existent security threats, rain water runoff, and how to deal with wildlife hazards (duh, shoot & eat them?). An even greater influence that the Federal and state government agencies that want to dictate everything in our lives are the crony capitalists. These are companies who “game” the system to change laws that will favor sales of their products and services. A recent example are mandates to build “LEED” certified efficient buildings (which often end up using more energy and are generally very expensive to build) or install taxpayer-subsidized solar cell farms on the open space around an airport. Pilots need to get involved in their local airport associations, otherwise the needs of G.A. pilots will remain a small aspect of how our money is spent and what sort of facilities we’ll have in the future.

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