Keep Your Eye on the Goal . . .

I recently spent a delightful hour having coffee with a former co-worker I hadn’t been in touch with for 12 years.  We had some very fond memories of our work together and spent part of the time bringing each other up to speed on our lives over the past decade. Since both of us are runners we congratulated each other on keeping fit and looking good in our old(er) age (my Mom used to say the secret to a good life is to grow old gracefully – trying Mom!).

Anyway, he told me a story about his son, who is now a commercial pilot flying for Tiger Airways in Southeast Asia.  But how he got there, from a London grammar school, was a great story in maturity and the principle of “Keeping your eye on the goal, not the obstacles”.

His son was very heavy into the junior RAF (Royal Air Force) cadets in school, was head of the group in high school and then went to university to graduate with an honours degree in Aeronautical Engineering.  A week after graduation he was slated to take his physical for the RAF Flight School Training.  A strapping young man in the peak of health, no worries.  But on his high school medical record were two notations, “Chesty Cough”, and the official policy was two mentions on a record and you are disqualified.

Anyone feeling shattered for this young man?  I was.  Here comes one of the good parts.  The RAF really wanted him in the service and asked him to come in as an engineer.  He told his dad he couldn’t stand being on the ground watching the other guys fly.  He still had his heart set on being a pilot.  About a year later he saw a Net Jets advertisement stating that they were growing and were recruiting for pilot training.  He applied and was immediately accepted.  Dream coming closer!

He was sent to flight school in the US and for a year all was going great until the Banking Crisis and the economy tanked.  They cut back on flight training, then on pilots and his hopes of becoming a commercial pilot were smashed again.  (By now I’m ready to become a school teacher and be done with all this bad luck).  But he still had his eye on the goal and through hard work and a little luck, is now a full-fledged commercial pilot for Tiger Airways.

How many young people (or oldies for that matter) do you know with that type of strong focus and determination to reach their goals?  Maybe we can take one setback, but rarely two.

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan press on has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race”  ~Calvin Coolidge

Tight Lines . . .

John R Childress

About johnrchildress

John Childress is a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at or
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2 Responses to Keep Your Eye on the Goal . . .

  1. Steve Borek says:

    5,127 was the number of prototypes Sir James Dyson created to come up with “the” vacuum cleaner. In fact, they celebrated every failure.


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