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Do you have the right perspective? 

image of a venus fly trap showing how confidence can be a trap
22 April 2024

If you have followed me for a little while, you know I'm a pilot and I like to use flying metaphors in business. I've found there are so many powerful connections between owning a business and flying a plane.


Yesterday I was playing golf with my brother, who flew the A-10 in the Air Force for many years. (if you didn't just grin a little, go search this airplane). He was telling me a story and I thought there was a great visual for business in it. Picture this:


You're standing on the beach looking out over the ocean. On a clear day, you can see 2.9 miles. That is as far as you can see at sea level. Based on the curvature of the earth.


If you were flying at 1,000 feet, you could see 39 miles.

If you were flying at 10,000 feet, you could see 123 miles.

At 25,000 feet, you can see 194 miles. Again, all of this assumes it's a clear day.


"Great Brad, what does this have to do with business?"  

Hold that question.

Forget for a second, all of the cool tech inside my brother's A-10. If you are cruising around at 25,000 feet and you are looking out 194 miles...there could be a threat at 20,000 feet or 10,000 feet you are not aware of. (again, forget all the advanced tech in today's fighters) At 25,000 feet you can see basic things on the ground. A road, a building; even vehicles that are moving. You can't tell what kind of vehicles or what business is in the building.


You'll need to drop down lower to see. As you do drop down lower, you get a better picture of the ground in trade for less visibility of what is coming right at you. Prior to radar, pilots flew in formation at different altitudes for this reason.


Think of the business owner as the pilot. Flying at 25,000 is ideal. The business owner can see the furthest. Identify threats early on. See opportunities as early as possible. But, just like the pilots before technology, they give up real-time detail of what's going on in the trenches. A good business owner is going to feel this and start to descend. But, pretty soon they have to get back up to 25,000 feet to see what is coming.


You have this descend/climb routine that goes on and on. A pilot knows that a constant descent and climb is inefficient. The same is true in your business. As a small business owner, you can't be everywhere.



In a large business, you've got the CEO, a bunch of VP's and directors that cover all the altitudes. The CEO can stay at 25,000 feet and have connection to everything else. As a small business owner, we don't have this luxury. So what's the answer?


2 things come to mind. First, regardless of the size of your team, keep them informed and aligned with your mission. They can offer some visibility into lower altitudes. But again, you might only have 1 person who can do that for you. Which leads me to the second thing....


Have a system of processes and metrics that give you feedback on what is happening at lower altitudes. With the right Standard Operating Procedures and the right Metrics, you can get pretty close to real-time feedback to what's happening in the trenches.


 In practice this can be the daily stand up meeting. A weekly Level 10 meeting. A scorecard you, the owner, has access to.


If you need help identifying & creating the Procedures and Metrics to keep you informed at all the altitudes, I can help you. (It's one of my super powers)



As the owner, you are most valuable to the business flying at 25,000 feet. Have people or processes that give you feedback from the different altitudes in your business. The business will run smoother, you'll avoid more threats, and capitalize on more opportunities.


If you'd like help with this, or other things relating to building a more profitable business, a great resource is my new Facebook Group. Check it out here:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/flightschool4business






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