Learning To Fly
I ask a lot of provocative questions in my role as a life coach, but this one is pretty unusual, even for me.
They put pilots in a flight simulator and confront them with extremely challenging and often life-threatening challenges.
Are they doing it to torture the pilots … to make them sweat and suffer as they scramble to determine the appropriate corrective actions to take?
Of course not.
So, what’s the purpose?
They do it so the pilots can learn. More specifically, so they can learn what to do under pressure.
Life presents us all with a lot of moments where we find ourselves under pressure, sweating and often suffering as we try to find a way forward and deal with something that’s A) been thrown at us or B) just not working in our lives.
And sometimes it feels as if we’re being tortured.
Why me? Why am I having to go through this? What did I do to deserve this? Why can’t life be easier?
Hey, I get it. I go there often enough myself to one degree or another when things come up and slap me in the face or simply don’t go according to plan.
But, and this is the big question … how much do you learn from easy?
Muscles get bigger only when they’re stressed … strained to the point of exhaustion.
Similarly, each of us is toughened up and made more resilient by having to face adversity and experience upheavals and failures along the way. The same goes for our businesses and society as a whole.
That said, when we’re being challenged, it often feels as if we’re being mistreated by life, like we’re being punished. And, if it’s bad enough … as in the case where we have a life-threatening disease … or someone close to us dies … or our business is forced to close … it can seem like torture.
We have to let it out, like the figure in the famous painting by Edvard Munch, The Scream.
But what if, in our distress, our grief, our pain, our anger, our despair, we’re just not able to “get” that there’s something to learn from our distress?
What if our trials and tribulations aren’t about suffering at all?
What if life itself is simply an extended kind of flight simulation where you and I are put to the test, in many different ways, to see how well we respond?
What if we’re just being given a chance to learn some very important, often life-saving, messages? Sometimes “life-saving” in a literal sense in that they keep us from crashing and burning.
And sometimes life-saving in the sense that if we don’t learn these things, the quality of what’s left of our lives will suffer.
If we don’t address the issues that are causing us grief, we might just never be able to straighten up and fly right.
Life as a simulator. I know it’s a strange analogy, but it just came to me and I thought the idea might help you cope with the tough times a bit more easily if you could conceive of every struggle as a well-disguised gift of sorts … the opportunity to learn.
If you’re like me, there are plenty of times when I’ve said, ”Enough already. Enough opportunities for growth!”
I get it. But what if I’m on to something?
What if once you died, the angels broke it to you that it was all about testing you so you could expand your capacity to live successfully and joyfully!
I know I’d feel pretty foolish if I’d actively fought against the learning.
How about you?
You might ask, “Why don’t we just get the knowledge and insight we need downloaded to us from the cosmos somehow?”
I dunno. I wish I did.
Sure seems as if it would be a whole lot simpler, but I guess simple and easy aren’t always in our best interests.
What I do know is this. As I learn, I grow … especially when I learn the hard way.
No one wishes for hardship. But when it comes, maybe it would be best for us not to reflexively treat it as the enemy.
It could be a friend in disguise … teaching us how to fly.
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