A “Symphony of Your Life” blog with Mark Hardcastle

Captain’s Log: Any given day in the terminal.

My customers have little say in the outcome of our “joint project.” It’s all up to me as far as they’re concerned. Many never give that reality a second thought.

Some, though, have yet to come to terms with climbing into an aluminum tube with 172 other humans, accelerating to 80% of the speed of sound, ascending to 6 miles above the earth’s surface, cruising quietly for a couple of hours, and arriving hundreds if not thousands of miles from where they began. How do I give them confidence it will end well/successfully?

Something I learned in Captain school is that everything speaks. Everything I do conveys a message of some sort. Which means that as I walk up to the gate my passengers are watching, and I’m saying things without ever speaking a word.

Unfortunately, I’m not the prettiest guy in the concourse, so I’m at a disadvantage when it comes to creating a good first impression. But I do what I can, even in that moment. I show up in the best possible way on that particular day. My hat is in place, my blazer buttoned, my shoes shined. I approach the boarding area with all the dignity I can muster. It’s the least I must do and the best I can do to transfer a sense of confidence to my passengers.

Of course, there will be more later. In just a few minutes I’ll pick up the microphone to welcome them to our flight. The surface-level information contained in that greeting will be all the standard things you’ve ever heard from any other Captain on any other flight – time en route, weather at destination, etc.

My subconscious message, very intentional even if subconscious, will be conveyed by the act of allowing them to lay eyes on me and hear me string a few words together. If I’m successful, they’ll come to the conclusion that “this guy looks and sounds like he knows what he’s doing. It’s not his first rodeo.” And their stress level will go down.

And I can almost feel your eyes beginning to roll. You may be thinking that Captain Mark has succumbed to delusions of grandeur. He’s just the guy flying the plane. It really doesn’t matter how he walks up to the gate, nor what he says. Nobody cares.

You may be right. And yet…

The very last event of my transition training from first officer to Captain was a check flight in the simulator. The session included a briefing from the evaluator about what was going to transpire during the ensuing several hours. It also included some philosophy about excellence, and how to go about becoming the best we have the potential to be.

Part of that conversation included a bit of commentary about how to wear the uniform well. He remarked that as we walk through the concourse people are watching, and they’re thinking, “I hope that guy’s my Captain,” or… not. And he suggested that they’ll be coming to those conclusions because of the way we carry ourselves and wear our uniforms. I thought that was nice and got the point. But I didn’t think for a minute that he was being literal.

Until that morning in Boston.

During summer operations most airlines offer pilots a “summer option” for how to wear the uniform. If they so choose, pilots are allowed to go to work without the hat and blazer. It’s a much more comfortable option in hot weather. And more casual-looking.

One summer morning in Boston my first officer and I chose to show up in our full uniforms; hats in place, blazers buttoned, shoes shined. Most of the other flight officers in the terminal were wearing their summer option, so we kinda stood out a little.

Shortly after we arrived at the gate I picked up the microphone and began doing my best to transmit all my messages. That complete, I stepped over to the boarding lanes to greet my passengers individually (this was pre-Covid).

One of my business-class passengers took my outstretched hand and said he’d appreciated my welcome message. And that he had seen the two of us in the terminal and had remarked to his traveling companion that “I hope those two are our pilots.” I smiled genuinely, thanked him for the compliment, and looked to his friend. “He didn’t really say that, did he?” “Oh yes, he really did.”

Incredible. Not in a million years would I have thought that what our evaluator had said could possibly manifest in the real world. But there it was.

Which begs a few questions for you.

Who is in the back of your airplane, and literally along for the ride? (This would be anyone who is dependent on you – employees, business partners, team mates, family members.)

What kind of hard battles are they fighting? What anxieties are they dealing with? Why are they about to board your jet?

Now… What can you do to lower their conscious and sub-conscious stress about the flight? How do you speak to them without ever uttering a word? And what are you saying when you do?

They’re counting on you, and they know it. And everything speaks.

Thanks for reading!

Captain Mark

Link to Mark’s book, The Symphony of Your Life

The Symphony of Your Life    

The Symphony of Your Life on YouTube

Mark graduated from the USAF Academy in 1982. After nine years as a pilot on active duty, he left the military to join a commercial airline. In addition to flying B-737s around the country, Hardcastle spends time in the Rocky Mountains and serves on the artistic staff of the Colorado Children’s Chorale. He lives in Centennial, Colorado, with his wife and four children. Need some help figuring out why you’re on this planet? Want to talk about discovering your mission and purpose? Contact Mark today at 720.840.8361 to schedule a free personal consultation. He can also deliver an inspirational keynote or workshop for your organization! email: mark@symphonyofyourlife.com for information.

Posted in Inspiration, Motivation, UncategorizedTagged BeingUnited, CaptainsLog, determination, how, inspiration, NewWorld, perseverance, PostCovid, purpose, StayInTheProcess, StepOverTheBar, symphonyofyourlife, TheSymphonyofYourLife, United, WeAreUnited


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