Stand back, Jack

It goes without saying, of course, but every now and then it’s a good idea to stand down, relax, maybe even take a nap. No matter what you’re working on, or how important you perceive it to be, there is a point of diminishing returns if you push too hard. You’re only human after all. If you don’t periodically stand back, take a break, and revive yourself through a vacation, a cooling off period, or just a diversion to other things, your work will suffer.

That’s true of your efforts on behalf of general aviation, too. For most of us, our dedication to the cause has to do time-sharing with our full-time job, possibly a part-time job, family responsibilities, and maybe even an online class we’re taking in the evenings. Generally speaking, those of us who get involved in the care and feeding of our community and its assets tend to be busy people who have demanding lives. The effort you put in will be appreciated by some, while it is actively opposed by others. For the most part you’ll find the bulk of the populace to be apathetic. This diversity of perspectives can cause us to drive ourselves pretty hard in an effort to make a difference — a tendency that causes community service to become a taxing hobby that can really wear you down at times if you let it.

Accept your limitations. Respect your need to disconnect periodically. In the interest of self-preservation, if nothing else, take a break now and then. You deserve it.

“For fast acting relief, try slowing down.” Lily Tomlin, the actress and comedian said that, and she’s right. We can be our own worst enemy when we convince ourselves that driving harder, longer, and more persistently is a prerequisite for success. Sometimes just the opposite it true. Pushing too hard can have the unintended consequence of pushing those who were willing to help right out of the picture.

And if you’ll recall, I wrote not too long ago about the importance of putting together a team of players who can work together to achieve the big goals. This is a perfect example of why that matters. Because when you have a team to work with, you can take a breather to re-charge your batteries without bringing the whole campaign to a screeching halt.

So there you have it. Now we’re into tying the lessons of one column into the advice offered by another. CFIs call that correlation, the mutual relationship between two or more things. We shoot for correlation when we train flight students. We do that so they’ll see how learning about aerodynamics helps them when they perform stall recoveries. Or so they’ll recognize the benefit of learning how to really excel at map reading can make cross-country flights that much more enjoyable and predictable. Let’s apply that higher learning goal of correlation to our advocacy efforts to, shall we?

If you focus keenly on the objective and work hard to achieve it, you’re halfway there. If you build a team of well-motivated players who can work together effectively, you’re just about to the goal line. And if you take the time to stop and smell the roses now and then, revisit your goals and re-evaluate how your efforts to get there are working out — you’re likely going to be a winner in the long run.

All of those achievements require time for reflection and thought, however. As it happens, vacations, long-weekend getaways, and the occasional nap all lend themselves to this exact opportunity. So take a break now and then. You’ve earned that much certainly, and so has everyone else on your team of hard-charging change agents.


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. He maintains multiple blogs and interacts via the Internet at You can reach him at

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