The Details of Success

When I used to own and fly airplanes, I became aware of the intricacies of detail and how important it was. When you are flying several thousand feet in the air it is NOT the time to do your pre-flight inspection. That is NOT the time to wonder if the propeller is going to keep turning until you reach your destination. Because there is so little room for error, it is a federal mandate that private airplanes go through what is called an “Annual”.

During this process, the airplane is taken out of legal flying and examined thoroughly. Engine heads are taken apart, “jugs” removed or tested, oil is analyzed for metal contaminants, and on and on. On one such annual, the mechanics brought back to me two cams as shown in this picture.

As you can see, the top of one cam is pitted, and other is smooth. As it turns out, the pitted cam was damaged by heat and the deteriorating metal was going into the oil system which washed over the cam shaft which lubricates the pistons as they race up and down to generate power. Just a small amount of this contaminant can cause catastrophic chaos, and freeze or explode a cylinder head. When this happens at ten thousand feet above ground level, it is called a “Holy Cow” moment. Some folks use other phrases.

I had no choice in my mind but to have the engine overhauled. This attributed greatly to my decision to hang up my pilot’s license. Engine overhaul $45,000. Peace of mind—Priceless! Then I sold my airplane. I fly a Honda now.

Back to my point; when the details of success are ignored, there is a time bomb ticking. Do you believe you can ignore part of the formula for success and still get the same results? When universal laws of success are not practiced, there is a price to pay—-it all adds up to an engine failure; the question then is, are you losing altitude?

I have had real life experience with emergencies at 14 thousand feet. Looking for a suitable landing area that is NOT an airport, trying to figure out what is going wrong while alarms are blaring and you’re losing altitude at 500 feet per minute. MOST of the time, when we are vigilant in our duty and pay attention to detail, we avoid the catastrophic disasters; and when things still go wrong, we are much better prepared to survive the ordeal.

I suppose I could have had the mechanic put the engine back together without replacing parts and took my chances for another year. How much fun would it have been to fly across country, wondering when the engine would finally stop? It’s not worth living life, looking over one shoulder to see if the boogey man is breathing down your neck. Peace of mind comes from preparation and diligence and paying attention to the little details of success. We can’t assume it’s OK (to ignore a prompting or put the alarm clock on snooze) just this once. Real success is in the balance.

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