So, I will age myself here, but ever since I saw Top Gun, I’ve always dreamed of flying in a jet and having a callsign like Iceman or Viper.
Good thing I never went in the USAF, because the odds of becoming a fighter pilot are slim to none (and slim left town), and being from SoCal I’m pretty sure I would have gotten a derogatory callsign like “surfer dude.”
But I can’t keep myself from adrenaline rushes. So, this past Friday I took some local clients for an adventure, where we shot each other in a dogfight in F16 flight simulators. And these things were the real deal.
Besides having a great time, I also learned a ton. And not just the fact that one of my clients can actually sweat through a flight suit, or that one of my clients trash talks like a drunk sailor.
No, I learned some great lessons you and I can apply to business and leadership. Here they are:
1. To turn faster, it requires that you slow down.
During our training, the instructor told us that although the F16 can go 1300 knots (Mach 2) if you try to turn it at that speed it will take forever, and you are a sitting duck in a dog fight. Faster is not better!
In fact, 400-500 knots is the best speed to make the quickest turn, which is the best way to avoid being shot. Slowing down to be safer and turn faster almost seems counter intuitive both in flying and in business.
But it makes sense. If we need to make a sharp pivot in our business, the best thing is to slow down and take account for what change or turn needs to happen. Running faster and harder only delays the turn. Have your teams slow down when you are asking them to change direction, so you can do it with more agility.
2. In the chaos, you have to focus on one target at a time
There were eight total jets in the dogfight and it was every pilot for themselves. And what we quickly learned is that you can only get radar lock and then missile lock on a single target at a time. If you got distracted by any other planes (a.k.a. shiny objects) you wouldn’t hit either one.
This directly applies to business. There is an old proverb that says if you chase two rabbits you won’t catch either. Businesses and departments need to have a few specific targets they are shooting at. Too many times we allow the chaos to distract us and we start chasing too many targets. Hit one, then move to the next.
3. Many times your instincts and fears will lead you astray
When we were given instructions on how to land, the instructor told us that when we land your instincts will tell you to pull back on the stick (lifting the nose). He said that’s a disaster and it will crash your plane. In landing the nose has to come down, so you have to push forward which feels to your instincts like you will crash. That fear leads people to jerk the stick back. Bad idea.
In the same way in business, our instincts and our fears can lead us to pull back or do the opposite of what we need to. Maybe we feel like a partnership, or client engagement, or employee issue is getting difficult so we want to pull back, but the best thing we can do is press in. We need to know how to achieve our goal before our instincts kick in and lead us astray. Don’t just listen to the fear.
Did any of those spark some ideas that you can apply in your business or life right now? If not, maybe one of the smaller things I learned will:
So there you go…lessons from my experience shooting down my clients in an F16.
Okay, well they shot me down too…in fact the scorecard shows that I came in a very mediocre third out of five.
Now, if you feel like you’re in a dogfight in your life or business and you need some help, reach out to me at Jason@jasonhartanov.com and let’s chat. I’ve got a few openings in my private coaching practice where I help leaders just like you achieve exponential breakthroughs in results. It just takes a quick call to see if I can be your wingman to hit some new targets (and NO you cannot call me Goose, and you cannot be Maverick)
And if you’re ever in Southern California, let me know so we can do coffee or you can try your luck taking out the Surfer Dude in your own F16.
Here’s to you hitting BIG targets one at a time,