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Mindset & Money | Being A Pilot Has Taught Me A Lot About Life And Business

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Hosted by
Mike Ayala

On this episode of The Investing For Freedom Podcast, Mike discusses the life lessons becoming a private pilot and being a private pilot has taught him. Mike explains how the knowledge he gained from learning to become a pilot is applicable in everyday life and can beneficial to use for your business.


0:00 – Intro
0:59 – Mike encourages you to become a private pilot if you have the time, resources and energy as it makes you a better human due to all of the life lessons it teaches you
2:08 – Mike shares how he has just moved to Austin and is planning to pick up flying again
2:31 – Mike mentions how he wants to take a few minutes to share some of the practical things becoming a pilot has taught him
5:48 – Mike states that no matter how much book knowledge you have you can’t be a great pilot without air time and it’s the same thing in business
5:59 – Mike references an old saying that the day you get your license is the day you start learning
6:52 – Mike expresses how air time is the only real way to get better in business and in life; you just have to get out there and get moving
7:32 – Mike mentions how every time there’s an emergency it causes us to get a little bit smarter
7:39 – Mike speaks about how it’s been proven that every time there is an accident in the airplane industry, usually there were two or three things that went wrong; it’s not just one thing its usual a compound affect and that also applies to business
8:03 – Mike shares another thing he learned from being a pilot is that you need to know where you’re going before you set off and without having a clear plan
8:33 – Mike mentions how being a pilot has taught him to be present
8:49 – Mike shares that the thing he loved most about being a pilot was that when he got to the airport the world went silent
9:06 – Mike advises you to plan for the worst so you won’t be surprised by much
9:42 – Mike shares some advice that he was given by his inspector; checklist are not to do lists but we should use both
10:12 – Mike mentions how you can’t always trust your intuition or senses because sometimes emotions are high and your judgement is clouded

Are you looking for freedom, freedom from the daily grind and hustle, or just finding a way to live the life you always wanted. Then join us on the investing for freedom podcast. Our host, Mike Ayala will help you discover new ways to find freedom. With tips, insights, and interviews you’ll learn the exact systems he’s used to travel the world and live his best life. True success and happiness are all about freedom. And here’s your roadmap on how to find freedom on your own terms. Welcome to the investing for freedom podcast. Here’s your host, Mike Ayala.

Thank you for joining me on the investing for freedom podcast. Today I wanted to share with you the life lessons that becoming a private pilot and being a private pilot has taught me.

You know, I had get into a lot of conversations and there’s a lot of people out there who number one, don’t know that I’m a private pilot, but number two, there’s so many people that are interested and intrigued in becoming a private pilot. And you know, if you have the time and you have the resources and the energy I would absolutely say do it because it’s one of those things that makes you a better human all the way around. It teaches you so much about discipline and responsibility, and there’s just so many life lessons and things that will apply. A simple example, I mean, a huge, huge part of being a private pilot is understanding weather patterns. And you know, there’s so many tools with NOAA and different agencies and things like that that you learn that just make you, I guess, more equipped and ready to live life on a practical level. So highly recommended, although it is expensive.

And there’s a lot of people that end up, you know, starting their private pilot license process and never finish. And then there’s a lot of people that get it and they don’t fly for instance, I am as I said, a private pilot and I haven’t flown since probably, gosh, it’s probably been late 2016 was the last time I flew. I used to own a plane with some partners. And when I moved to Phoenix, I ended up selling my share in the plane and I just never started flying. But you know, I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as I just moved to Austin. And I’m going to pick it back up. I’m going to get my, I’m going to get current, which doesn’t take a whole lot. You never lose your pilot’s license unless you do something illegal or get a DUI or get out of medical or whatever. So it’s not a big deal to update it and get current, but I’m also going to get my instrument rating and considering eventually may be getting my helicopter license.

So yeah, it’s kind of a passion, but I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and I wanted to just take a few minutes and share with you guys. You know, just some of the practical things that it taught me. And it’s interesting because one of the first things that I realized when it came to like the process of getting my pilot’s license there and this directly applies to business, there’s a ground game and then there’s an air game. So there’s the ground school, which is all about prep and planning and learning, you know, all the ins and outs and the weather and the intricacies. And, you know, you have to like literally learn all the old school ways, even though there’s GPS and we fly completely different today with technology and it makes us so much better and more efficient as pilots. They still force us to learn some of the old school ways. And there’s like little radio towers that on the map you know, you have to dial in this radio tower and then you dial in this radio tower and wherever they cross, you take a map and you draw lines from where you’re, you know the direction that the radio is going, and then you cross the other line and that tells you where you’re flying.

So anyway, there’s the ground school that teaches you all that the different airspaces, there’s, you know, class A, B, C, D, E, F and G. There’s all these different airspaces and there’s ways that we track time and weather and our windage and the distance, we can literally calculate with the old dials, how fast we’re moving, because obviously, you know, airplanes outside of GPS didn’t have speedometers. And so that’s the ground game. The prep, the planning, even when we’re going to take a flight.

There’s the pre-flight stuff that we’re doing, you know, how are we planning our trip? How long? What’s the wind, what’s the headwind? How much fuel do we need? How much weight are we projecting? That’s all the ground game. And we need all that in business too. And so it could be just you know, the annual planning, getting all that, or it could just be like a pre-flight just planning for the day or planning for a meeting or whatever. That’s all the prep and planning, that’s the ground game, but then there’s the air game and in business that’s when we actually take off and so much happens as a pilot, this is one of the reasons why I’ve debated whether, you know, for so many years, I’ve had this conversation with some other friends that are pilots and stuff like that, because the last thing that I want to do when I’m going on a vacation, or when I’m going on a business trip or whatever is put the amount of time and energy and effort, and it’s literally exhausting. I mean, even going through the night before and checking weather and making sure that you’re going to be able to fly out and are we going to be able to get there. And are we going to be able to get back?

I literally left my airplane one time in the middle of Wyoming and had to rent a car and drive 14 hours to get my family home because the plane wouldn’t start and we had icing conditions and I was an IFR rated. So I had to rent a car drive home 14 hours, and then four days later get a commercial flight back to Rapid city. And then I had to rent another car and drive to the airport where anyway, so you know, one of my pilot instructors, my CFI used to say, if you have time to spare go by air.

So there’s the airtime of it to where we’re actually flying and planning and all of that. And so it’s really, you know, multiple parts to it. But the ground school is understanding the fundamentals from start to finish. And that’s a big part of, you know, whether you’re going to college for business or, you know, whether the planning time that we have around strategy and all that. No matter how much book knowledge you have though, you can’t be a great pilot without airtime. And it’s the same thing in business. You could go to business school forever, but really until you get the airtime that’s when you really start learning. So another thing that I learned there’s an old saying that the day that you get your private pilot’s license is the day that you really start learning. And you know, while we did a lot of, you know, getting your license is really just learning the fundamentals. It’s a lot of emergency training. It’s the ground school. It’s basically the minimum that you need in order to be a proficient pilot, as far as, you know, flying on your own, you basically got the tools in your tool bag to be able to figure out or at least conceptually figure out anything that you need to from there.

But the reality is just as the old saying says, the day you get your private pilot’s license is the day you really start learning to fly. And until you get out there and you start experiencing issues and emergencies that you’ve trained for, and all that kind of stuff or   even the communication, there’s no way that they can prepare you for all the situations the air traffic control is going to give you, rerouting you know, things that you’re just not prepared for. And so airtime is the only real way to get better in business, in life, as a pilot anything else, you got to just get out there and get moving.

So airtime you know, ground school and even becoming a pilot just gets us prepared for that. But then we really got to go out there and practice. So you know, if you talk to anybody who’s proficient, they’re great in business, They’re a great mentor, They’re a great coach. They’ve had a lot of airtime in business. They’ve ran into a lot of situations. You know, every time we get to solve a problem, every time we go through an emergency, every time we deal with a COVID or a financial crisis or whatever, we become that much better of a business operator and it’s the same thing as a pilot. Every time there’s a little emergency or something happens, we just get a little bit smarter, we get a little bit better. And by the way, as a side note, it’s proven, they’ve actually found that anytime there’s an accident in the airplane industry, a crash or whatever, usually there was 1, 2, 3, at least three things that went wrong. It’s usually not one thing you know, weather, and then there was mechanical and then maybe the pilot had too many drinks the night before. There’s usually multiple things that compound and that’s the case in business too.

So another thing that being a pilot taught me is you don’t know where you’re going. Obviously we don’t jump in an airplane and you know, just take off and start moving without having a clear idea of our flight plan and the weather ahead of us and where are we going and where are we going to park the car overnight and that kind of stuff. So, you know, really just planning on our routes and where we’re going. We literally are supposed to file a flight plan, and that’s how it should be in business on a day-to-day basis as well.

Another thing is it taught me to be present. Really when you’re flying, the only thing that really matters is what’s in front of you and working in the current problem, even if it’s not a problem just working on their current situation. So being present, I think a lot of times in life and in business, you know, our brains are going everywhere, we’re scattered. But when it came to flying, what I loved about flying and being a pilot is the minute that I would get to the airport, the world went silent and it got even more silent once we got in the airplane and we shut the doors. And so being present, it really, it teaches you that.

Another thing when it comes to life and business in general is plan for the worst and you won’t be surprised by much. There’s all these acronyms that as pilots we’re trained on one of them is, you know, if you’re ever in an emergency altitude, carb heat, turn, and this is for you know, a smaller plane, but you remember those little things like ACT altitude, carb heat, turn, and they’re ingrained in us through our emergency training, but we also have checklists.

So anytime there’s an emergency, even if you know that altitude carb heat, turn if there’s ever an emergency, you’re going to pull out the checklist and make sure that you ran through it. Even pre-flight and my inspector taught me this, and I think it’s applicable checklists are not to do lists. So even in an emergency, we’re going to run through in our brain, what we hopefully already know, because we’ve practiced it so many times, or even on our pre flights or anything else we’re going to do our to-do list. But then we go through the checklist. Did I do this? Yes. Did I do that? Yes. Have I already checked all that? And so checklists are not to do lists, but we should use both. Really in business, we should know what to do, but then we should have some form of checklists that we come back to.

The last thing that I’m going to say, and I’ll close it up with this. You can’t always trust your intuition or senses. And I know this sounds counterintuitive because a lot of times you don’t trust your gut and go with it and everything else, but being a pilot, we go with what we think and what we see and what we know, but we always have to come back to our instruments and being an instrument rated pilot,  I’m not an instrument rated, but even in the prep to be a normal pilot, we have to go through a lot of training where our it’s called under the hood, where we can’t see outside and we have to just trust the gauges. But the reason why we do that is for us to understand that sometimes when we’re in situations where we can’t see when we’re in the clouds emotions are high. There’s a lot of things going on that we weren’t really planning for. We can’t always trust our intuition. And so like, as a pilot, sometimes you get into the clouds and we would simulate this with being under the hood. So they put a, like a hat over your eyes where you couldn’t see. And sometimes you think you’re like turning left when you’re really turning right. Or you think you’re, you know, climbing when you’re really dropping. And so that’s why we have to learn to trust our gauges or in the sense of business, Like we need numbers, we need PNLs. Because a lot of times we could think that, you know, some of our top employees who we think are our top employees are actually not our most profitable employees or, you know, some of our top divisions that we think are producing maybe aren’t our most profitable because the overheads are too high or whatever.

So anyway, I just wanted to share that with you because I think being a pilot, number one has taught me a lot, but there’s a lot of you out there that are excited about it and everything else, but it is a commitment and it’s something that you really have to be committed to, but it’s the same in business. And we really got to, as I said, we’ve got to go through not only the ground school, but the air school as well. We’ve got to spend the ground time and the airtime. So there’s a lot of prep involved, you know, we might take a four hour trip and for a four-hour trip, there’s, you know, six or eight hours of preparation sometimes because of weather and ahead of time and tracking, and maybe you got to get the plane into the shop and get it filled up the day before. And it’s not always six or eight hours, but it could be a long time.

So anyway, that’s just some of the things that being a pilot has taught me and I thought maybe you guys would be encouraged by that. So go out there and make it great.

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