Learning to Fly is the Hardest Thing.

Have you ever tried to make a big change that you really want, but can’t seem to sustain the smaller changes in choice and action needed?

Sounds frustrating.

How does a bird learn to fly? How do we learn to fly? To take off in flight towards our goals? To say it more practically, how can we do more of what inspires us, more effectively, with more ease and less effort?

Set up a framework for accountability.


Whatever it is that we would like to see more of in our life, there is a gap between where we are now, with our two feet planted on the ground and where we would like to soar in the air.

If a bird could study all the mechanics of flying; the muscles needed to sustain wingspan, how to use wind lift and make controlled landings, it still wouldn’t be a guarantee that it could fly. Actually, bird experts say that birds learn to fly because of two things, instinct and practice.

Instinct is a natural response. Most birds have the instinct to fly (except penguins and ostriches). According to psychologist Abraham Maslow, well known for his humanistic theory and hierarchy of needs, humans are driven to achieve their maximum potential and will always do so unless obstacles are placed in their way.

If we want our work and life to take off in a different direction, we must tap into our potential by removing the blocks that obscure it. Once the vision of our potential is clear, we must practice making the choices and taking the actions that support that vision.

The bigger the gap between where we are and where our potential is, the more uncomfortable the practice of these new choices and actions can be. For some of us, a new action can be thrilling especially in the beginning when we are infused with the energy of enthusiasm. For others, the first step can be terrifying. Either way, after we have initiated change, the pressure of the status quo can kick in and slow us down or even stop us altogether.

This is when it’s easy to fall back on old patterns, like a bird settling into the nest rather than risk falling flat on its beak again.

The key to sustained practice is accountability. How do birds stay accountable? Well, they don’t. Instead, they are pushed out of the nest by bird parents or left alone to fend for themselves if they hang out too long. For us, it’s easy to get comfortable with the status quo. As long as our situation isn’t “critical” we can easily give up practicing the new choices and actions we know will make our desired vision a reality.

Moving forward requires accountability after the decision has been made. Here are some ways we can stay accountable so that we finally learn to fly:

1.     Join or create a mastermind group of highly motivated individuals who share a common goal and want to encourage and help each other to improve.

2.     Commit your future vision to paper and work backward from that with a series of smaller goals and the changes in behavior needed to take you there. Review it at regular intervals.

3.     Verbally declare your vision and what you will do differently to a trusted colleague or friend who will agree to be your accountability partner

4.     Hire an executive coach as a professional/personal development strategy to prioritize and schedule time completely focused on you, your vision and the results of your action or inaction in an honest and non-judgmental way.

They say practice makes perfect. Perhaps practice makes POSSIBLE.

Jo-Aynne von Born, Executive Coach, Workshops, Keynote Speaker


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