He is not just one of the Flying Aces; he is considered the ace of aces.
Manfred von Richthofen is perhaps the best known fighter pilot of all time. You probably know him by his personal brand – The Red Baron.
While he was the enemy of our ancestors, we found his story compelling. He came to disdain his chosen career. But in his journey, there are lessons for us today.
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From shaky observer to master of the air
The Red Baron began his career in the second seat of the plane. In his autobiography, he recalled his first flight:
“The draught from the propeller was a beastly nuisance. I found it quite impossible to make myself understood by the pilot. Everything was carried away by the wind. If I took up a piece of paper it disappeared. My safety helmet slid off. My muffler dropped off. My jacket was not sufficiently buttoned. In short, I felt very uncomfortable.”
He continues, “Before I knew what was happening, the pilot went ahead at full speed and the machine started rolling. We went faster and faster. I clutched the sides of the car. Suddenly, the shaking was over, the machine was in the air, and the earth dropped away from under me.”
Even then, his new job did not come easily.
He says, “I was to direct my pilot…but I had lost all sense of direction. I had not the slightest notion where I was.”
But soon he began to marvel at what he was seeing – the tiny men, buildings the size of toys.
He notes, “It was a glorious feeling to be so high above the earth, to be master of the air. I didn’t care a bit where I was, and I felt extremely sad when my pilot thought it was time to go down again.”
Finding a mentor
Early in his flying days, The Red Baron met Oswald Boelcke. He was one of the most famous flying men of his time, with more victories than any other ace.
The Red Baron sought his advice, “I took great trouble to get more closely acquainted with that nice, modest fellow whom I badly wanted to teach me his business. We often played cards together, went for walks, and I asked him questions.”
A mentor isn’t just someone you call when you need help. Build an ongoing relationship. Get to know him or her personally. Play some cards if they like. Go for a walk. And ask for help.
What’s your whole aim and ambition?
The Red Baron learned from his mentor that the secret was flying alone. Then he could use a smaller, faster, more maneuverable craft.
He writes, “My whole aim and ambition became now concentrated upon learning how to manipulate the stick myself. I threw myself into the work with body and soul, and after twenty-five training flights I stood before the examination in flying alone.”
BIGG success comes in iterations. You have to focus exclusively on reaching the next level. Put everything else out of your mind.
What’s your red handkerchief?
One day, when he was just a boy, he climbed all the way to the top of the most famous steeple in town. He placed a red handkerchief on it as a memento.
Years later, as you know, he painted his plane red to stand out from all the other fighter pilots.
Red made him famous to the whole world. It helped him be a BIGG success!
What’s your red handkerchief?
How do you show the world what you’ve accomplished?
How do you stand out?
If you’re not sure, maybe we can help.
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