20 Miles

The D.O.M. team is in San Antonio for the NBAA Maintenance Conference (NBAA MC). If you are at the show, stop by booth 421 and say hi.

I always enjoy the NBAA MC. It's great catching up with all the maintenance managers I've met over the years and meeting new maintenance management professionals as well. The sessions are always educational — you never know what you will learn.

My favorite session so far was yesterday's keynote speech. It was given by Jonathan Cleck, director of Greencastle Consulting. Cleck is an executive coach and speaker on leadership, focusing on mental fortitude, team alignment and culture development. He is a retired Navy SEAL and a former Federal Air Marshall.

During his speech, Cleck asked us, "Imagine you are on a beach. You go out 100 yards perpendicular to the beach just pack the breakers. Raise your hand if you think you could swim 20 miles parallel to the beach? Remember — you're only 100 yards from shore. At any point, you can swim back to the beach if you need to."

Nobody raised their hand. 

Then Cleck said, "What if I took you out in a boat and we went 20 miles out from the beach and I dropped you in the water. Raise your hand if you think you could then swim those 20 miles back to the beach."

Plenty of us raised our hands. He asked someone, "Why could you do it when you didn't think you could do it just 100 yards from the beach?" The attendee said, "Because I would have no choice but to swim back! It would be swim or drown!"

Cleck then said that story explains a lesson in perseverance he learned from BUD/S — the extreme mental and physical training that all SEALs must pass before beginning their advanced training. Those SEAL candidates who don't feel they can go any further in BUD/S can Drop on Request (DOR) at any time by simply ringing a bell. Those who go on to become Navy SEALs are the ones who persevere through the tough mental and physical challenges despite the easy opportunity to DOR at any time. They are the ones swimming the 20 miles only 100 yards from shore. In difficult times, even though they are close to the beach, they keep swimming on.

Think of how many of us have chosen to stop swimming and "ring the bell." Can't handle a tiring spike in work hours due to an extremely high work load? Quit and find another job. Having a difficult time transitioning from a mechanic to a director of maintenance? Ring that bell and find another employer. Struggling as a new A&P? Feeling you're not getting the respect you deserve? Swim back to the beach and find another job — maybe in another industry.

Don't get me wrong — there are some situations where quitting is the only viable solution. Resetting your career path and starting a new one can increase your career opportunities. But some of us may choose the easy option before trying our best to persevere.

SEALs don't pass BUD/S as individuals. They persevere because they are a team. We can work as a team to become better mechanics and maintenance managers. We can mentor new mechanics so they don't feel overwhelmed when first entering our industry. We can reach out to our peers for advice and knowledge when we face challenging times. Together, we can help each other persevere and make the commitment to "keep swimming!"

Thanks for reading,



About D.O.M. Magazine

D.O.M. magazine is the premier magazine for aviation maintenance management professionals. Its management-focused editorial provides information maintenance managers need and want including business best practices, professional development, regulatory, quality management, legal issues and more. The digital version of D.O.M. magazine is available for free on all devices (iOS, Android, and Amazon Kindle).

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Joe Escobar (jescobar@dommagazine.com)
Editorial Director

Greg Napert (gnapert@dommagazine.com)
Publisher, Sales & Marketing

Bob Graf (bgraf@dommagazine.com)
Director of Business, Sales & Marketing