THE SIMPLE PATH - 24 October 2013
T-33 at Sunrise - Edwards AFB, California
Most of us in the aviation career fields are highly successful types. (At least, that's what I tell myself!) Most of us have Type-A personalities. We set lofty goals and go for them. Some of us get on the corporate ladder, constantly working for the next level. Add in the variables of family life and you have a full day. In fact, your cup might runneth over, as they say.
Me? I was on that track. Then, at a mid-point in my Air Force career I got to a crossroads. It was a very difficult time. One decision would've set me up for the rest of my career. I had to do a lot of thinking. I had no idea how to figure it all out. Something that helped immensely was defining what I wanted in very simple terms. How I got there is an interesting story.
In the late 90's, I was at Edwards AFB flying the F-15. Looking back, I was probably at the crest of doing the coolest things, flying the coolest aircraft in my career. I loved doing what I did. But, as we all know, good things don't last forever. I was coming up for assignment and needed to decide what I was doing next.
Doing great at that job only meant I was demonstrating good abilities to perform at the next higher level. To the Air Force, that meant doing something that didn't include flying. I had a desk job in my future. It was the normal stepping stone for moving up the chain of command. It was the standard practice to get promoted to do "bigger and better" things down the road by taking one of these jobs. It was the path to leadership and it was the expected career choice. However, I was completely uncomfortable with that future and didn't know what to do.
At the same time as having this huge decision hanging over my head, I was selected to interview as a NASA Astronaut. The story is too long to explain why being picked for the interview was one of my top five Air Force career highlights. Let me just say it was a tremendous honor to be considered among the finalists. The best part of the interview was realizing my future path. That interview helped me understand where I needed to go for my next assignment.
From THE SIMPLE PATH - 24 October 2013