Are you looking for answers in your life or your work? Do you feel that you wouldn’t be having the problems you have today if only you had made a better decision yesterday? Are you searching for the tips and techniques that will help you avoid error, achieve more, and enjoy a balanced life?
If you are looking for answers and beating yourself up for the choices you’ve made, maybe it’s time to stop managing your business or life exclusively by “visual flight rules” and earn your instrument rating.
Visual flight rules are the principles that govern flying when visibility is good. Even skilled pilots cannot fly when clouds or darkness limit visibility unless they have earned an instrument rating.
Flying on instruments requires new skills and opens up new possibilities. In business, life, and flight, we can take off, land, and navigate in dense fog or utter darkness if only we know how to use the instrument panel.
Here, then, is the secret to making plans and decisions in uncertain times without sacrificing balanced life. But first you have to let go of your old ways of knowing. A pilot who keeps looking out the cockpit window, trying to see through dense fog, ignoring his instruments in a desperate attempt to get his bearings visually, is almost certain to crash.
Similarly, in the fog or darkness of our lives, we must stop looking outside for answers. We must stop struggling to see what is obscured and turn our gaze inward, attending to the signals that can inform our next step.
Here are a few principles for earning your instrument rating:
1. Check your instruments when the visibility is good. That is, check in with yourself when the way ahead seems clear and when you are feeling confident, competent, supported, and balanced. Observe the sensations in your body that coincide with this clarity. Take the time to become quiet so that you can hear the still, small voice of Spirit or intuition.
2. Instruments are not flight simulators. That is, what you observe when you check in with your body sensations and with your intuition is not going to look like what you would see externally.
The data you get from going inward is infinitely richer than that which you get by looking outward. You cannot process this much data cognitively.
3. Flying on instruments requires subtlety and restraint. Beginners often over-react to instrument readings. Understand that the bumpy ride may be due to your learning curve and not a defect in your instrument panel.
4. Instrument flight is not a solo activity. From the mechanics who keep your plane in shape to the air traffic controllers who coordinate your flight with other traffic and provide vital data to confirm your instrument readings, you need a support team.
5. Sooner or later you need to test your abilities when conditions are truly challenging. Be prepared for the inevitable feelings of fear by learning to acknowledge and move through fear in the moment so that panic does not impair your judgment.
6. The information you get from your instrument panel is only as good as the equipment. Learn what it takes to keep your personal instrument panel in working order. Making fundamental self-care the highest priority in your daily pre-flight check is a cornerstone of balanced life.
7. Flying on instruments requires both learning and practice. Choose a skill to develop, find a teacher, and practice it until you have it down cold. This takes time, which leads to the next principle.
8. It’s dangerous to rely exclusively on instruments before you get your rating. It’s even more dangerous to put off learning. The sooner you begin to practice in earnest, the sooner you can rely on your capacity to navigate the stormiest skies with reasonable equanimity and skill.
How do you get your life instrument rating? Here are three ways:
1. Hire a life coach or a business coach. Even if I were not a coach, I would make this my number one recommendation because coaching is intended precisely to teach you to rely on your own wisdom.
2. Study a martial art that teaches you to identify and work with rather than struggle against both internal and external forces.
3. Meditate. Regular meditation can teach you to detach from the mental noise that scrambles your inner guidance and keeps you from having a balanced life.
There are times in business and in life when it’s just not possible to know what to do next based on your usual sources of information. You can learn to access the wealth of wisdom that is encoded in your body and soul. You can get your instrument rating.