Life Lessons Learned from Top Gun

A few weeks ago after spending half the day in the ER, I was confined to what I was sure was my deathbed. Not able to do much of anything, my husband asked if I wanted to watch Top Gun for the eight millionth time. That’s right, Top Gun. It’s my favorite movie of all time. When it came out in 1986, I made my parents take me to the theater TWICE to see this now-cult classic. I own the soundtrack and three copies of the movie. And, I can pretty much recite it line for line from beginning to end.

But, my Top Gun obsession is not really what this blog post is about. It’s really about how we deal with setbacks in our lives. Hey. When you’re open to them, lessons and inspiration can come from anywhere!

Before getting to the lesson, let’s set the scene. Lt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, is a hotshot Naval Aviator who moved to the front of the line to attend United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program, also known as TOP GUN, when his wingman quit after a tough mission. Maverick is the guy you simultaneously love and hate. He’s handsome, charming, and full of life with a smart comeback for everything, but he’s also cocky, stubborn, and reckless. For him, like most of us, everything is great – until it isn’t.

The challenge comes when his co-pilot dies after they’re unable to recover from a jet wash. Maverick, to put it lightly, is devastated and considers throwing away everything he’s worked for. Now he’s at a crossroads. Should he throw in the towel or can he use this heartbreaking setback as a learning opportunity? If you don’t know, you can probably guess what happens, but this is the lesson. When you have a setback of any degree, you always have a choice in how you handle it. You can quit, or you can learn from it and use those learnings to propel you forward.

To get clarity, Maverick seeks guidance from his instructor who tells him, “A good pilot is compelled to always evaluate what’s happened so he can apply what he’s learned.” I’m guessing none of you are TOP GUN fighter pilots – if you are, I want to talk to you! -- but the same guidance applies to each of us in our lives. When faced with a setback no matter how big or small, it is a test of our strength, our commitment, and our level of confidence in our abilities. So, let me ask you... 

Are you a quitter or an overcomer? Are you a scaredy cat or a badass? Are you broken or a survivor?

Perhaps you think you are a quitter, a scaredy cat, or are broken, but you most definitely are not. Chances are you have had some hardships before now, but you are still here to tell the tale. That counts! We all have a spirit of resilience and boldness that lives within our hearts. These qualities may be buried a little deeper on some days than others, but they are there.

If you are doubting yourself or your ability to not only bounce back but bounce forward, consider these five things:

1.       What are your three proudest achievements?

2.       What challenges did you navigate to realize those achievements?

3.       What are three hardships you’ve overcome?

4.       What steps did you take to overcome those hardships?

5.       How did you feel emotionally and physically after achieving and overcoming the above?

By reflecting on your achievements, it offers proof that you are skilled at dealing with adversity. By reflecting on both the physical and emotional feelings you experienced as a result of those achievements, you are able to connect with your courage and power. There’s a good chance that these steps will provide you with a renewed sense of strength and confidence. That strength and confidence will beget more strength and confidence, making it nearly impossible for you to NOT fly high once again. Give it a whirl and let me know how it goes.

If you are still struggling with overcoming your setbacks, there may be a deeper issue at play. Schedule a a FREE strategy session with me and let’s talk about it.