Mid-flight Adjustments

An airplane never flies directly to its destination. Because of crosswinds, updrafts, downdrafts, and other unforeseen events, pilots have to make mid-flight adjustments.

Because of these unexpected adjustments, the plane arrives at its goal.

To get to your destination of being a successful copywriter, you’ll have to make similar mid-flight adjustments. Some of them will be minor. And some … not so minor.

Which brings me to CJ …

CJ is someone who exemplifies the need to make those all-important mid-flight adjustments … and someone who’s willing to do so.

CJ is a 19-year-old from my town I’ve known for over six years. I got to know him when I was volunteering in his math class.

There are a couple of things you should know about CJ. First, he wants to succeed at things he feels are important. Second, CJ has some serious learning disabilities.

Don’t get me wrong. He’s a bright young man. But book learning doesn’t come easily to him, and he particularly struggles with math.

Never an excuse …

CJ’s learning disabilities make his accomplishments in school all the more impressive.

The first time I got to know CJ’s mettle and commitment to success came when he was in eighth grade. I’d just finished working with him in his math class. He told me he’d be staying in from recess to finish his homework.

I knew he was hoping I’d offer to help him, which I did, of course. At the end of his next class, right before recess, I asked him if he still wanted to meet to work on his homework. I expected him to opt out. After all, he was an active 13-year-old boy who loved running around with his friends.

He stayed in, and at that moment we established a special relationship.

If it’s worth dreaming …

Toward the end of the year, his class was asked to write down their goals in high school. CJ had several ones relating to athletics. One did not.

That goal was to get a 4.0 grade point average during his first year. This goal was reaching far for CJ. But he did it, earning a 4.0 one semester that first year. And several times after.

He did it while playing football, wrestling, playing basketball, and running track. (Athletics are a huge part of CJ’s life.)

Adjusting the course when necessary …

In eighth grade, CJ had a career goal of being a professional football player. In high school, he was first team in spite of never tipping the scales at more than 140 pounds. He is fast, strong … and determined.

But reality set in. CJ was simply too small to be a pro player. So he reset his goal to being in the military.

This is where his learning disabilities became significant. As I said, CJ is a bright young man. But people enlisting in the service have to pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) to be accepted.

CJ didn’t pass the test in his senior year in high school. This was, of course, a huge blow to him. (And a loss to the military. CJ will succeed in anything he sets his mind to.)

Many young people faced with a similar barrier would have given up. Not CJ.

I spoke with his father this past weekend. CJ is enrolled in a good university in southern Oregon. He’s taking a full course of study. And wrestling. (He’s a great wrestler!) And he’s enrolled in ROTC.

He wants to be an officer when he graduates from college. He will be a good one. His earlier disappointment may have been for the good. They often can be.

But CJ still has the ASVAB to overcome. I told his dad I’d help him study. It may be a difficult course ahead for CJ, but I know he’ll adjust his bearings when needed. He’s done it before. And I know he’ll come down someplace perfect for him.

CJ will succeed.

So can you. If you understand that the journey to success is never a perfectly straight line. You need to adapt and adjust.

But, if you have CJ’s commitment to success and willingness to adapt, you will get there.

I’d love to hear about adjustments you’ve had to make on your path to success. Let us know about them in the comment section below.

I’d also like to thank the AWAI member who told me about the airplane metaphor for success. I can’t find your name. But what you told me stuck! Thank you.

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Published: December 22, 2014

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