Taking a Flight Lesson from the Blue Angels

Have you ever seen the Blue Angels perform? I’ve had the privilege of seeing them several times, and they never disappoint.

This is a team of the most highly skilled pilots on the planet. They have trained and practiced for years to reach a level of skill than can literally take your breath away.

The Blue Angels perform incredible feats of aerial acrobats. They fly in such a tight formation that they have only 18 inches from one plane’s wingtip to the next. 18 inches. Picture that in your mind for a minute. Imagine the perfection that must be achieved to pull that off flawlessly. These pilots simply can’t afford to have a bad day.

Chances are you’ll never be an elite naval pilot, right? So why the heck am I writing about the Blue Angels? Because there are two essential lessons you can learn from them to help your practice reach its highest altitude. Here they are:

Mental Preparation

Prior to performing an air show, the pilots sit around a table in the conference room and rehearse the show step by step. The Commanding Officer calls out the moves. The pilots visualize the movements, and in many cases, they move the imaginary controls to mimic what they will do in the air. They practice step by step until they can see the perfect performance with vivid clarity in their minds. Then they are ready to go and fly the planes.

We can put this same power of mental preparation to work for us. Prior to conducting a phone consultation with a potential new client, I spent a few moments and go through exactly how I want the conversation to go. I rehearse what I will say, I rehearse what the client might say, and I envision us building a positive rapport during this call. I always end this visualization with the client scheduling an appointment.

I use this technique as a way to focus my mind, clear any of the clutter, and set myself up for success. Not every potential client becomes a client, but many of them do. By setting the expectation for myself and for the consultation, I set the stage for success.

I believe the power in this exercise is in the confidence it creates for me, which the client is able to hear. When I feel confident about what I’m saying, the clients can hear that, which gives them confidence that I’m going to be able to help them.

This technique isn’t just for the initial consultation either, use it before sessions if you feel a bit anxious with a client.

“I can fix that.”

This one I love and I’ve already incorporated it! The military has a standard procedure call the “After Action Report”. It’s when people get together and discuss an operation. They speak about what went right as well as what went wrong. This helps each individual, as well as the military as a whole, learn from the experience and improve it next time.

The Blue Angels have their own unique twist on the After Action Report! After they finish a show, they sit around a table and critique their own performance. They say specifically what they as a pilot did wrong during the show. Then they finish the critique with “I can fix that.” And they can! So can you! You will make mistakes on your road to success. That’s a given. So take a few moments to acknowledge what they are and say, “I can fix that.”

I have just begun offering a new workshop, which is something I haven’t done in a few years. While I love giving workshops, I’m a bit rusty! So after my first one in January, I sat down and wrote everything I wanted to keep doing, and everything I tried that didn’t work. After I looked at it, I realized that I really could fix those things. So my next workshop is next week and I’ve gone back to my list as I begin to prepare.

This technique takes away any sense of failure, because everything you try is a learning experience. When something in your practice isn’t going as you’d like it to, set as ten or fifteen minutes to try your own After Action Report. When you’re done, be sure to remind yourself that you can fix it. Then get to work fixing it!

If your practice isn’t soaring with the Blue Angels, and you’re having trouble even identifying where to start fixing it, you may be interested in my Practice Intensive. Just 2 or 3 highly targeted coaching sessions can have a profound effect on your future.