Monday, January 13, 2014

January 13th, 2014

Fresh Air Matters... with Capt. Yaw

Welcome to 2014. No matter where you are in the world, you are looking at a brand New Year! What has happened in the past is no longer, it can only be used to guide you in your decisions for the New Year ahead -YOUR FUTURE. 'We cannot change the past, but we can shape the future', is a useful mantra that has a real purpose as we stand in the gateway of a fresh planetary orbit of the sun.

Of course, the 'year start point' is a rather arbitrary point, decided many years ago, but adhered to by the majority of the planet's population for practical reasons. In all honesty, each and every day is the start of a new year, if we want it to be! (Chinese, Moslems and many others each have their own 'year start' points.) Nonetheless, 1st January is celebrated around the world as the first day of a new Gregorian Calendar, and with it a vision of what we expect, and hope for, in the coming 365(.242 days) - and they are already ticking by at a rate of knots!

In Ghana we have an Adinkra symbol, that echoes its own 'philosophy', called simply 'Sankofa' or 'go back to fetch it'. It practically symbolises that 'we cannot go forwards without knowing where came from', or 'we should learn from the past to build the future'. Often depicted as a bird looking over its own shoulder at itself as an egg (which is not only where it came from but also what it will soon produce - thus its own future!); the concept exists in parallel forms across civilisations of the world.

I like to consider a New Year rather like a waypoint on an aviation navigation - a point of 'restart'. A moment where you can select a new heading, level the wings, reset the direction indicator, reset the stopwatch, pick out a target way ahead, and 'start from a clean slate'. I sometimes call the waypoints in navigation 'hallelujah moments'. You have achieved one leg of your route, and are about to start another. Furthermore, any mistakes you made in getting to where you are, can be struck through, and you may legitimately reset the timer, adjust the heading, and off you go. Of course, you would a foolish pilot not to learn from what happened on the last leg of your navigation!

Taking note of the features of the past leg - weather; the time left until sunset; the direction and strength of the wind; the general feel of the air; the look of the waters below you (for their colour can tell you a lot about impending events in the atmosphere); the sound of the engine; the rate of fuel consumption; fuel remaining; hunger, tiredness and thirst levels; and so much more - are all key to being well equipped to make fewer mistakes, achieving more, on the forthcoming leg of one's passage towards Nirvana.

Of course, in order to move forwards safely, that is where you must be looking. It is good to reflect on the past, and keep the precious lessons of history close to mind, to avoid falling into the grips of unnecessary challenges. At the same time it is essential to focus attention on a feature on the horizon - looking forward, reading the signs of the sky and terrain ahead, and always making sure that you have an emergency route in mind as well!

I don't think many of us look back at 2013 as a year of greatness - anywhere in the world. It was a tough year. I am sure that on the first of January 2014 many people considered they had vanquished 2013 and shouted 'hallelujah' as they embraced an untouched 2014. 

This year clearly has many navigational hurdles ahead - one would be foolish to think that this was a year of plenty joy, and few challenges. It is going to be a year where our piloting skills will be put to the test - one where the need to plan, react and adapt are essential to getting to the next waypoint intact.

Whether we consider food security, cash flow, climate change, international affairs, business development or personal progress, 2014 will be a year that requires all of our skills to ensure that we achieve desired goals, through an age old secret that has been lost to the masses.

Yes, there is a secret to surviving the challenges that 2014 has hidden up its celestial sleeves! Yes, there is a way to overcome the worst of the challenges that we can imagine in the darkness of our sleepiest nightmares. Yes, there is a way to move forward in 2014, like a pilot, knowing that you are equipped to reach that far off waypoint, marked on the calendar at the end of December.

The secret is simple, and it has several components:-

1. Hard work. Without constantly working hard towards the goal, you cannot complain if you do not make it. Long hours, few off days, and waking up in the night thinking about a solution - are all part of working towards success.

2. Perseverance. The ability to continue in the face of adversity - a personality trait that often annoys others, but leads the carrier of the mentality towards success - despite the naysayers!

3. Determination. Get it into your head that you are going to overcome - and keep that at the front of your mind. Be ready to step out and take the risk - if you believe that you are able to succeed. Do not be put down, put off or put away by others - breath in, chest out, head up and set your chin steadfastly out - then march forward to win your battles. (Always remembering that losing the odd battle has nothing to do with the overall outcome of your conflict!)

4. Faith. Have your faith in your God, your purpose and the people you work with. Trust, believe in them, but never forget to believe in yourself! You can do it. You will do it. 

5. Read. Read a lot - about all sorts of things. Fiction and fact. Current Affairs and biographies - and some fantasy too. Reading is one of the most inspiring things you can ever do. Try to set aside at least one hour per day to reading. (even reading the newspaper - or internet news feed - even this column on a Monday!). Reading stretches your mind, ploughs the fields of your grey matter and plants the seeds of innovation like no other activity known to mankind.

May we all be together in January of 2015, with fantastic stories to tell, with a host of fantastic experiences - with tears of joy and sadness banked away - moments of fear and fun worn with pride and to know without doubt that we will have made a positive difference to all around us in 2014.

Capt. Yaw is Chief Flying Instructor and Chief Engineer at WAASPS, and Pilot/Engineer with Medicine on the Move, Humanitarian Aviation Logistics ( e-mail

1 comment:

  1. Captain Yaw- these are great thoughts for the new year! I pray that you and the work in Ghana reach greater heights in 2014. All the best! - Steve