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Memphis Daily News
Help Someone Else Fly Solo
October 26, 2017
By Dr. Mary C. McDonald

Legendary aviator Amelia Earhart once acknowledged, “Mostly, my flying has been solo, but the preparation for it wasn’t.” She was speaking about her husband, and their mutual help and encouragement, their consistent working together toward shared goals. In a real sense, he was the wind beneath her wings. Like Amelia Earhart, when you are the leader, the innovator, the entrepreneur, you often fly solo, but you didn’t get to that place alone.

It might just have been a leap of faith for someone to believe in you when you had an idea you knew would work, but didn’t know what to do next. Someone listened; someone mentored. It might have sounded crazy to most when you talked about your vision for a new service, a new company, a new venture. But someone took a chance on you, someone saw the value you brought to the table. You made every word of advice and strategy-brainstorm count, and you flew solo. What would have happened without that thought partner?

Yes, it’s true, you did the heavy lifting, maybe all the lifting in the beginning, and you assumed the risk. But on those really tough days when there was no business, and expenses outweighed income, someone told you about an opportunity for you, or took you to a networking event, or gave you some tough, transparent feedback that you really needed to hear. It made all the difference, and you flew solo.

Yes, it would have been easier for you if they had helped all along. But then you never would know that you could do it, and do it well. And so, you succeeded. There is little that is more exhilarating than taking the controls, and flying solo into the wide-open spaces of your vision.

Now, you’re a seasoned leader who has gained wisdom, experience and knowledge, and it’s your turn. I believe that implicit in leadership is the responsibility to help others. It is a natural extension of the role. Whether you are a new leader, or a little farther down the road, you have the advice someone else needs. Even if you are a retired leader, all that you learned is a legacy that can be lived out in someone who needs your wisdom.

While helping others is a natural extension of leadership, it is not always easy to do. When we are caught up in a plethora of decisions, and operations, and problems of our own, we often don’t take the time to really listen to others, or to be of any help at all.

Today, take the time. Today, notice someone. It can be an employee, a colleague, a relative or a stranger you meet at lunch. Find out what’s important to that person. Listen. Offer to spend some time learning more, share a contact, or information about an opportunity that might help them. Encourage them. Believe in them.

You just might be the wing beneath someone else’s wings. It is equally exhilarating to watch someone else take that solo flight, knowing that you just might have helped them get off the ground.

Contact Dr. Mary C. McDonald, a national education consultant, at 574-2956 or visit

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