Posted: Dec 11, 2018
The Five Laws of Stratospheric Success
Home on the Range

As the boss you have influence because people do what you want them to do. Your priorities become their priorities. You have influence because you have money, position or title, a history of accomplishments and the power of promotion.  Hogwash.  That’s not influence – that’s control.  I don’t know anyone who enjoys or thrives while being controlled. Hopefully you are the boss because you have put other people's interests above yours.  Their resulting success in turn leads to your greater Influence.  If not - watch out for falling skies.

The Third Law


The Law of Influence - Your Influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first.

When people feel they have no control they spend more time looking for ways to break away then they do looking for ways to contribute to what they know they should be contributing. The organization suffers as people separate into two’s and three’s, fail to share and craft competing, often singular, priorities.

My Navy flying nickname was Waldo.  Nicknames break down the “Sir” barrier than can occur when juniors and seniors fly together. That barrier can be the split-second between life and death. Nicknames also remind us we’re all in together; day and night, work and play.


A while back, about ten days prior to going on a carrier deployment for 5 months, I was at this party with my flying buds and their wives and girlfriends. I was going to be the boss of the group to leave in ten days.


Purposefully yet haphazardly this young wife wanders my way.

“You’re Waldo aren’t you?”

“You bet, what can I do for ya?” Remember, we’re at a party. Of Flyers with their Angels. But this girl is scared. Her face and voice are uncertain and anxious.

She tells me who she is and who is her husband.  Newly married.  She’s never been away from home or her hometown. Never been away from her husband – who is headed away with me for 5 months on his first deployment. She’s afraid, cause she knows full well that sometimes not everyone who goes out also comes back.


Eventually she blurts out, “Waldo, he loves to fly and I’m tryin’ hard to be there for him but … “ She inhales fast and deep not knowing what else to say, if at all.

I tell her calm and clear, “You know your husband well enough.  Guys like he and I, we love to fly.  It’s our reason to live. We know there are dangers but the thrill of flying on and off aircraft carriers is so great that we don’t even think of them.” She exhales a bit. “Your husband is a great guy and I tell you flat out - he’s ready. You ask anyone here - if he wasn’t ready to go, he wouldn’t be going. I wouldn't take him. Besides, your husband would be a damn fool to do something stupid and loose a beautiful gal like you."

“I don’t want him to worry about me.” She confesses, relaxing. “I want him “in the cockpit”, not wondering if I’m ok. Not missing something cause he’s thinking ‘bout me and am I OK or not."

We pause a moment to let the air reset.  “I’ll make you a deal,” I tell her as concerned but as matter-of-factly as I can. “You write him a letter every day, and I’ll make sure he’s around to read them”. We clink glasses. Deal.

Ten days later and off we went. Five months through the winter. Sleet and sloppy seas. Dark purple nights.  Often we wore dry suits under our flight gear so if we went into the water, and if they found us, we’d only be mostly frozen and not completely Mrs. Paul’s. We did our best, even better than best. Heck, we even scared ourselves a few times.

“Hey Rookie, no moon tonight” I’d jab to this newbie pilot as if a challenge and we’d give ‘n take some about what to remember when flying around the boat at night and what to look for in case he had to get gas from the airborne tanker.  The next day, after he’d returned at 0200 from his flight (OK) HX (NEPSIM) FBIC-AR 3 wire, I jealously kidded him over a midday burger, fries and Coke, “Another letter from home?” I asked.

“Ninety-three in one hundred days”, he beamed. "She's the Best". I agreed. Keeping her side of the Deal.

Finally, 5 months had passed and time to head home. We launch from the carrier and find our home base in an hour.  Under grey, brisk and scattering skies. The runway is wet and our planes’ high-inflated tires skip like on an ice skating rink. We park our jets and hurry inside the hollow hangar. A huddled crowd of well-wishers greets us. Wives and kids and girlfriends and more kids. Some parents and balloons and handwritten placards. Some cheers and welcoming tears.


None for me though. I always went and came back solo.

I searched the crowd for our young bride but didn’t find her.  Then, there she was.  Off to the side a little. Funny, she looked a little thicker than I remembered, even with the topcoat.

I’d never seen a warmer embrace.  She and her husband, rooted almost. As if to separate never again, though certainly they would as he had done well and surely would stay “in the cockpit”.

They walked quietly away. In-hand. Whispering. Just at the corner she turned and, catching my eye, silently mouthed “Thank You”.  I tell you, I could not have received a taller trophy.

We each succeeded.  He got a wife to forever love him and understand his desire to live in the clouds.  She got a husband to forever love her and be her everlasting Fly Boy. I got a first class flying buddy, a wife who’s a heck of a good cook and both who remain at the top of my Friends list.

Place the other person's interest first and your interests will always be taken care of.

Who are these fine Friends of mine? They are horse men and horse women, car nuts, sailors and boaters, flyers and floaters. Readers and writers, movie buffs. Artists and artisans. Parents and solos. Listeners and talkers.  But no controllers.  Each ready to take care of another.

And what of our young couple? They gladly traveled the world in the service of their country, each other and their family. Best of all, for Christmas, not all but most, she sends me a Christmas card, writing simply – Thank You Waldo.


Previously: The 2nd Law - The Law of Compensation

Next Up:  The 4th Law - The Law of Authenticity



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Good luck!


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