Failure and Resilience with Mark Hasara

Reading Time: 22 Minutes

Retired Lieutenant Colonel Mark Hasara was fired from his dream job and feeling like he hit a career wall. What happened next has changed his life.

During the interview we discuss why failure is the best human learning environment and the most important lessons Mark has learned about leadership during his time in the Air Force.

About Mark Hasara

Mark flew missions in the US Air Force for over two decades during the Cold War, Afghan War and Iraq War. In his book Tanker Pilot he tells stories from his journeys and shares the lessons he took from the battlefield that we can all apply in our lives whether at home or at work.

Read the Transcript

Who Is Mark Hasara?

Allison: Welcome back to the Deliberate Leaders podcast. I am your host, Allison Dunn, Executive Business Coach and owner of Deliberate Directions where we are dedicated to helping leaders build strong, thriving businesses. Each episode we feature an inspiring interview to help you on on your leadership journey.

Today, I am so excited to introduce Mark Hasara. He’s the author of Tanker PilotLessons from the Cockpit and you have a quote in here – “Nobody Kicks Ass Without Tanker… Nobody!” That’s so awesome!

Mark: That is the motto of the tanker fleet and it has been for a long time.

Allison: Oh, it’s the motto. Okay. I saw that underline in the book you sent me and that was pretty fun.

I want to do a formal introduction. Mark is a retired Lieutenant Colonel who flew missions in the US Air Force for over two decades, during the Cold War, Afghanistan War, and the Iraq war. And, gosh, thank you so much for your service. That’s incredible.

And you are the author of the book Tanker Pilot. And this is where you tell stories from your journeys. You share the lessons that you took from the battlefield that we can all apply in our lives, whether we’re at work or at home.

Mark, welcome to the podcast. It’s so awesome to have you here today.

Mark: It’s a pleasure to be here with you, Allison, I’m so glad you reached out to me and I’ve been waiting for this for a couple days. I’ve been really excited to talk with you.

What a Tanker Pilot Does

Allison: I just want you to be able to provide a quick orientation for listeners. I know what you do because my husband’s also an Army to Air Force guy, but what is a Tanker Pilot for anyone who might not know

Mark: I’m gonna tell you what I tell all my wife’s friends… I passed gas for a living!

But it’s incredible amounts of jet fuel. For twenty-four and a half years I was a KC 135 pilot flying one of the oldest airplanes in the Air Force inventory. Many of them are older than I am, and I just turned 63. So that tells you how long they’ve been around. But the KC 135 has been the world’s air refueling workhorse since the 1950s.

I’ll give you some really interesting statistics. I take off in my airplane on one mission with 180,000 pounds of jet fuel. That’s more gas than you will use in your family vehicle in 27 years. That’s how much I’m using on one mission during the 26 days of the Iraqi invasion.

The team I lead of 30 people, planned and executed the missions. We transferred over 417 million pounds of jet fuel in 26 days. That will allow a Ford F 150 truck to make 2,685 round trips to the moon or seven round trips to the sun!

And that’s why the tankers are there. It’s an airborne gas station where airplanes will come up underneath us. We have a flyable boom in the back that has an extended pipe. We stick it in their airplane, and toggles lock us together.

We pump gas just like when you go to Costco. We pump a little bit more than you would normally get at Costco, about 6,000 pounds a minute.

The biggest offload I’ve done is into a B-52. It was 103,500 pounds of gas on one mission! So when we’re talking air campaigns, and humanitarian operations, the KC 135 and the KC 10 touch everything the US does.

Literally, tankers are all over the world. And on any given day, there’s about 150 tanker missions a day.

They hook up and there are 100’s of missions, at least 160 to 200 missions a day offloading around 8 million to 9 million pounds of gas a day, particularly over in the Middle East. And we connect with a receiver every four minutes.

So that’s what tankers do. It’s a fun mission. It was really a fun mission. And I really am flying an airplane I wanted to fly ever since I was a kid.

Allison: So being in the air, being in the right place at the right time so that you’re receiving aircraft that needs the gas.

Mark: Yeah.

Allison: Is that like a line at the gas station just waiting to get more fuel?

Mark: Great question.

Sometimes it’s a single receiver like B- 52 bomber. Sometimes, like during the Desert Storm war, we had to go into Iraqi airspace and pick up 32 F-16s that didn’t get gas going to the target, they were critically low on gas. The F-16 that came to my airplane first only had 800 pounds of gas in it. Six minutes! That’s how long he had before he ran out of gas when we hooked up to it.

So sometimes we have eight, sometimes we have one. Sometimes we’re in formation where there’s four tankers and eight receivers on each one of us. Sometimes it’s a long line at the gas station. Sometimes it’s a short line at the gas station.

Typically in the Middle East right now, we’ll have four to six receivers on us at any given time. And we will give them anywhere between 10 to 15,000 pounds of gas each airplane.

Allison: So this is an aerodynamic exercise that happens. 

Mark: Yes.

Close Calls on Missions

Allison: Did you ever have any close calls? Or you know, just like complete concern, like now you’re attached?

Mark: Yes!

My very first Combat Support Mission in 1990, the very first one we connected with a Royal Saudi Air Force F-15 fighter jet. He saw us all up in the plane taking pictures in the window. So he’s waving at us and talking to us and everything like that… he wasn’t watching what he was doing and ran underneath us so we couldn’t pull the pipe out.

He broke the nozzle off of the end of our boom. Gas was just flying out of the back because the pumps were still on. He got out of the way and you could see our big nozzle… and it’s a big piece of metal… still in his airplane. Of course, it belonged to me.

One of the funniest lines I’ve ever heard during air refueling, he comes up to us and says, “I need more gas!”

I said you just took the way only way we can give you gas. He looked over like this, looks up at us. He goes, “We make air mess. No!?!”

Yes… yes, that’s exactly what we did!

He goes, “Okay, I go home now.” And he just left. Three days later that big piece of metal showed up on a table in our maintenance office. They’d sent it back to us but most of the time, refueling goes without any problems. We have an interphone system so that when the two airplanes are hooked up… we can talk back and forth through the boom and we’ll discuss everything from football games to what kind of Chick-fil-A sauce you have in your room.

Allison: That’s great.

Mark: There’s a really good video of guys talking back and forth and they’re talking about how Chick-fil-A really takes care of the troops. They had sent packages of their Polynesian sauce over to the Gulf region. In a box I think there was like 3,000 packages they were all divvying up. They were talking about that while they are air refueling.

The Roles Mark Worked in the Air Force

Allison: That’s funny. Like I’m super curious. Over the years what have been some of the roles that you’ve played in the Air Force in your career?

Mark: I’ve been an instructor pilot and I’d also been an instructor at two schools. One of them I created, I helped create. The Air Force has its version of Top Gun. It’s called the Air Force Weapons School. They just had their graduation this weekend.

I was the deputy commander of the Initial Cadre of about 16 officers and non-commissioned officers that created the KC 135 Weapons School. Our syllabus had 482 academic hours, 18 five-hour flights, a three-hour simulator ride, and a graduate-level paper all accomplished in 19 weeks. Yeah, so it was the graduate level, Ph.D. level school for tankers, and we started that in 1999. This class, we have now over 200 graduates and it’s been going for 20 years. So it’s going very well.

I tell everybody, that’s the worst assignment of my career because nobody thought there should be a tanker school like this. But we kept going and kept doing it. And our third class was going through on 9/11.

The next day, several of our graduates got sent all over the world to create air refueling plans to defend the United States to prepare for operations in Afghanistan. So it’s one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had, too.

I’ve taught at National Defense University, international students, which was a lot of fun meeting all the different international students… German, Italian, we had a Chilean ship captain, so forth, but mostly it’s going around the world passing gas into receivers and international partners.

That was also another really fun aspect of working with US allies and learning their culture. People ask me, “Well, what was your favorite place?” And I say, “the one where I enjoyed flying the most, or the one where I enjoyed the food the most!”

Allison: Which one did you enjoy flying the most?

Mark: My flying assignment in Okinawa, Japan was by far the best assignment I had. It was the most educational assignment I had too… a great learning experience. We had a terrific Wing Commander who told all of us, “I want you flying in everybody else’s airplanes. If you’re a tanker pilot, I want you flying in the F 15. You helicopter pilots, I want you flying in the Airborne Warning and Control Systems airplane.”

We could all fly amongst the different airplanes. We got to know each other well, to the point I could hear a person’s voice in my headset, Allison, and I knew exactly who was sitting in the cockpit.

When your team gets to that point, where you can recognize voices, you know you’re on the same sheet of music.

It was a wonderful assignment to be there under that kind of leadership, working with those kinds of people, making a real difference in the world, flying training missions and humanitarian missions throughout the Pacific. It was just a lot of fun.

Taking Mark’s Wife to Europe

Allison: Going back to your other question. Where did you enjoy the best food?

Mark: Oh, man, that’s a tough one. Okay. I spent five months in Italy during the Kosovo campaign, and nothing beats an oven, fire in it, and Quattro Formaggi pizza… four cheese pizza.

But we had a wonderful sit-down, kneel down, place in Okinawa, where we got the really good Japanese noodles. This Japanese noodle house, which was fantastic, all of my kids loved it. I’ve had some really great things to eat.

I’m not a fish eater. I don’t do seafood. My wife does that kind of stuff. But again, there were just great places to eat.

I recently took my wife over to Europe and took her to some of the places I had been. Got to try some of the food and so forth. Places we’d go I told her, “Yeah, I took off from that runway, and that runway, and that runway!”

Nicknames, Code Names, and Callsigns

Allison: That’s awesome. Curious, so you brought up Top Gun, which was a pivotal movie in my teenage years. And it’s coming back out I think, later this week, right?

Mark: I think they put it off until the fall. Which was really disappointing. I was so disappointed when I heard that you know, I’d really love to see that movie. But I think they put it off until around Thanksgiving or something.

Allison: I can’t wait to get it because they want to relive when people can actually go to the movies. Yeah, so that made me think you know, how they like they had names for each other. So you know, there was Goose… do you have a nickname or code name?

Mark: I do have a nickname, a tactical callsign. My callsign is Sluggo, S – L – U – G – G – O. See how I put that in the book at the bottom?

Allison: Yes, I did, but I didn’t understand it.

Mark: So I weighed 11 pounds and was 23 and a half inches tall when I was born. I was a big Sluggo. I got it in pilot training. And that’s where it comes from.

Allison: Oh, that’s great. All right. Now I can see that kind of finishes the circle for you.

Mark: Everybody’s got one you know, and we actually have a call sign night where we will assign call signs to people. It’s really kind of fun because it’s either something about your character or something really dumb you did… something like that, you know, and when we have those nights where you’re given your callsign is really a lot of fun.

Fired From a Dream Job

Allison: In your book, you mentioned that at one point you were fired from your dream job. Yes? And feeling like you’d hit a wall in your career. I know that people will relate to that either they’ve been there or they’re feeling like they’re there right now. So, share with us what happened next.

Mark: That job I told you about which was the worst four years of my career… it was actually my dream job.

About four years into it, a Colonel that was our commander, fired me, in April of 2001. Previous to that time, my throttles were up! I was enjoying teaching, even though we were getting so much flak on trying to create this school. We knew it was going to make a difference in our community. It really has.

But I got fired. He called me in one day and he says, “You’re gonna have to find another job. You’re not working here anymore.”

So I went to a Wing job at Fairchild in Spokane. They were going to put me in a position I didn’t want. It was kind of like being the Maytag repairman for the base. I thought, why would you put a guy with all of this education and training in such a position? 

I said, “Look, just let me go down to a squadron, let me teach young kids how to fly, how to do all of this stuff.”

Wing leadership said, “Yeah, okay, we’ll do that.”

As I said, that was April of 2001.

Deploying After 9/11

Tuesday morning, 9/11 changed everything.

For a long time, I didn’t know what I was going to do, where I was going to go. I was a Lieutenant Colonel, I wasn’t going to get promoted because I hadn’t been a Squadron Commander.

So you’re kind of at that wall, Allison, where you’re like, “Where do I go from here? What do I do now?” It was depressing. I get up and go to work, and I still really enjoyed teaching the concepts of how to do air refueling, and how to fly the airplane. But I knew that my career was over. I thought, “Well, do I get out of the Air Force now and what do I do?

Then like I said, 9/11 happened. I got a call at 5:50 in the morning from one of my wife’s closest friends who was living in Boise at the time, at 5:50, and she’s going “Where’s Mark!?!” Where’s Mark!?!” Where’s Mark!?!” My wife said “He’s asleep right here next to me. Stacy. It’s 5:50 in the morning, what’s up?”

She says, “An airplane has hit a building in New York. Turn on the TV.” I’m kind of a news junkie anyway. So I turned it on the TV, I see the building burning. I’m thinking to myself, how could a pilot with thousands of hours run into a building on a clear and visibility unlimited day, but my subconscious was going, “We’re under attack!”

I saw the second airplane hit and ran to the shower. While I was in the shower, my Wing Commander called “Mark has to come in right now!”

Eight days after 9/11, I deployed to the Middle East to run air refueling operations across the entire Middle East, which became my real dream job under some really bad circumstances, because we were dealing with so many problems of fuel and airplanes and getting people over there and so forth.

But when you have all of those kinds of challenges, when you’ve gotten fired, you have real confidence issues and so forth. But I didn’t realize God has a plan for you. You may not know what that plan is at the very moment. You’re kind of three days from nowhere.

Then all of a sudden, I was doing everything I had been training people to do. I was the Chief of the Air Refueling Control Team, in charge of all air refueling through the Middle East, for about a year and a half for all five nations; the Dutch, the French, the English, the Australians, and the US.

I was running air refueling for everyone… We’re averaging 265 sorties a day and about 11 million pounds offload a day.

God’s Vector Check

I want your listeners to understand…

When you get to that wall, just remember there are things on the other side. There are things on the other side of being fired that may be much, much better for you. I call it God’s Vector Check.

Allison: Vector Check. Yeah, well said.

Mark: Yeah, that’s a vector check, because I was really wondering what am I going to do, and then everything changed. Like I said, on that one particular day, and…

I know a lot of people right now are maybe out of a job or waiting to get a job, or to go back to work, and so forth. Take this time to improve your skills and improve your life. Because when God’s Vector Check comes, be ready for it. Be ready for it.

Allison: I love the fact that you call it a vector check, is it just a term that you just made up or is it from somewhere else?

Mark: It’s something that we use in the military, okay, a vector.

I’m on this heading, and now they want me to go on this heading. Okay? It might be a one-degree adjustment. It might be a five-degree adjustment.

But that Vector Check is an understanding of how Heavenly Father wants you in a position where he can use you.

I was trained and educated to be put in that position. Even though I didn’t know it, I had confidence issues from being fired. And here I was now running air refueling across the entire Middle East.

“Failure Is the Best Human Learning Environment”

Allison: I think this is a quote from you, you say “failure is the best human learning environment.” This ties into your vector check, you know, feeling like you’re not sure where you’re intended to be.

So I’m using failure as a term that kind of almost the bottom of the vector check. But before you head back up, yes. And what failure did you learn the most from that one? Being fired from that job.

Mark: Because you look back and you think to yourself… you do kind of a self-analysis and your mind is sometimes your worst enemy.

You think to yourself, I’m not good enough, I wasn’t smart enough… I didn’t do this, I didn’t do that… I should have been more engaged here and so forth. You kind of talk yourself out of your confidence.

And so, that particular failure I think was one of my greatest learning tools because again, it made me go back and think, you know, I’m so depressed I didn’t do this right. I got fired and I’m now at the end of my rope, what am I going to do? 

But yet, situations change… COVID-19 has changed all of our lives. Look for the opportunities, post COVID-19, when things start opening back up, when governors start opening back up, mayors start opening things back up…

I think all of your audience is going to realize, “Wait a minute, here’s a great opportunity that I didn’t think was coming.”

You mentioned before we started here when you were talking that you’ve had some great people on over the last couple of months. Because we’re locked in our houses, we’re looking for things to do. We’re looking for those opportunities.

This is one thing I would tell all your audience:

Yes, failure hurts, okay? Failure sucks. Embrace the suck! Keep moving forward, keep going forward. Because you never know what opportunity is going to come at the end of that.

There’s a great quote by, of all people, Will Smith, in a video I watched where he says, “Your greatest joy, your greatest happiness is just beyond your greatest fears.”

And that’s one of the things I teach about when I get up on stage. Yes, it hurts right now. People are out of work, how am I going to pay my bills? and so forth. But the time is coming, if you are prepared, where your greatest fears will turn into your greatest joy and happiness.

Trust Lets Your Team Take on More Risk

Allison: I completely agree with Mark! One of the things that I always like to ask guests having an interview is what is your number one leadership tip you would share with our audience.

Mark: I’ve had a couple of weeks to think about this since I’ve been listening to your podcast, so I’m ready for it. All right.

Allison: So what’s your what’s your tip?

Mark: Trust, trust, trust. May I give you two stories? 

Allison: Yes, please.

Mark: We were running intense tanker operations, and we didn’t have a way to kind of analyze what we were doing. Were we needed measures of performance and measures of effectiveness… are we doing the right things and are those right things moving us in the right direction?

One of the guys working for me came up to me, and he has mad skills with Excel. I do not have mad skills with Excel. Wybo, that was his callsign, does. And he came up to me and he says, “Hey, I’ve been working on something. Let me show it to you real quick.”

He goes through what it was, it was an analysis of all of our operations based on an Excel spreadsheet, that would show us all of the trends, negative or positive, how the airplanes were being maintained, how much gas we’re offloading, the number of sorties, airplane missions were flying and so forth.

But particularly, how hard we were flying the pilots and the aircrews. I do not understand Excel, but knowing that he did, I trusted him and I told him, “I want you to run with this, I don’t understand it because I don’t understand putting formulas in the little boxes, but you do.”

Two days later, he came up to me and showed it to me. I said, “start doing that now.” I told everyone on my team, “This is what we’re going to send out to all 15 bases.”

The information we were getting back from that spreadsheet was fabulous because it allowed us to be more effective, more efficient. That was because I empowered Wybo to move forward. I trusted him, not knowing how to use Excel, but knowing he did, empowering him to be able to make that sheet.

We actually went back and used it to defend decisions we were making, to generals and international officers, and so forth. Trust is a great powerful tool in a company.

Your customers must trust you. One of the things we have in the air refueling community, particularly the Air Force KC-135 and KC-10 community, is our customers trust us implicitly. Here’s the story for that. 

On the opening night of the Afghanistan air campaign in October of 2001. Mongo was his callsign, had the newest Lieutenant in the Carrier Airwing on his wing. They were flying at night and got to their tanker. There were six airplanes already lined up on their tanker, they would be number seven and eight. Mongo wouldn’t get enough gas and it would make them late for their target. The tanker pilot told him there’s another airplane 370 miles to the north, orbiting over the town of Herat. “Go there and get gas.”

Now, he’s low on gas. He’s got a brand new Lieutenant on his wing and he’s flying on night vision goggles. He has to go 370 miles across the Registan and Dasht-e-Margo deserts. Dasht-e-Margo in Dari means “Desert of Death.”

He’s flying across low on fuel. But he had such trust in our community that he was able to take a greater amount of risk and assume a greater amount of risk.

He got a radar lock-on on the airplane at 80 miles. At about 20 miles he sees it visually on his night-vision goggles. But we have to refuel the Navy with a basket that’s on our boom in the back… it’s kind of like a hummingbird shuttlecock… they come up and they plug a probe into it.

It wasn’t until he got about three miles away he saw the basket on the boom. He had to come up… he and his wingman only had about I think he said 2000 pounds in his tanks which meant if the tanker wasn’t there, he was going to have to eject out of the airplane and become a survivor on the ground on the opening night of an air campaign!

But Mongo was able to plug the lieutenant in, then plug himself in and get the gas he needed.  He got to his target, did the mission he was supposed to, and then returned. 

That’s trust! That’s trust! 

As leaders in our companies and leaders of our teams and our communities…

That’s the kind of trust you want to build with your customers and the people around you so that with your word, they will assume a greater amount of risk because they trust what you say.

They trust what you do. They know that you will be in the right place, at the right altitude, at the right speed, configured the way you’re supposed to be, ready to pass gas, based on your word. TRUST.

Allison: I think that that’s one of the first words that I use when someone says why… why does someone even hire a coach? And why do they choose you?

My first thing is, I gained their trust. Yes. So that’s a big one. I don’t know if it’s the same answer, but I’m going to ask the question in a slightly different way. 

Mark: Sure.

Building Cross-Cultural Relationships

Allison: What’s the most important lesson about leadership that you’ve learned during your career?

Mark: Relationships… creating relationships.

Allison: Can you give me an example? 

Mark: Okay. I was working in the command center, where the air campaign was being run from for the invasion of Iraq. We had about 1,000 people in there, and I worked in what was called the Master Air Attack Plan Cell.

One night as I looked around, and we’re were working on a really, really tough problem supporting the troops that were on the ground, having the right fighters and the bombers… giving them enough gas and so forth.

I looked around the room. There were about 15 to 20 people I had known throughout my career that were now in that group of people. We had established relationships early. One of the Navy planners had been my next-door neighbor in the 1990s.

Trigger was his callsign. He was one of the planners for the Navy. The Chief of the Navy Planning Cell happened to be a Captain on a ship I had been on for a week. He had allowed me to go up in a Navy airplane. Got a cat shot takeoff and an arrested landing. He was working about 30 feet away from me. As I looked around the room, I realized all of us knew each other. All of us knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We’d work together before in some really tough situations.

Now all of us are working together to perform the different missions and tasks, planning, executing them, and so forth. It wasn’t until much later where one of the Navy captains who was on one of the carriers we were supporting, his call sign is Moose, says, “Do you realize how we all knew each other? I thought about that one night when we’re working on this problem.

Relationships are a big deal. Develop those relationships with the people around you. You never know if someone passing 10 feet away from you is the person that will make you successful. There are so many stories about people meeting somebody on the street saying I am this person and I do this. Are people going out and meeting those people that can help make them successful? Those relationships sometimes take a long time to build.

But I’ll tell your listeners one thing that I do whenever I’m going to a foreign country, and I know I’m going to be working with a team, for instance, this Jordanian team we’re working with. I learned a few Arabic sayings like “hello”, “how are you?”, “thank you”, “goodbye”, those kinds of things.

I remember being in this meeting, and of course, we’re going around the room introducing each other and there’s about 20 of us in the room. I looked at this Jordanian CEO, and said “Salaam Alaykum, Sadiq! Kaif Halak?” 

He just beamed because I was saying “hello, my friend. How are you?” That really did a lot to create a great relationship between his team and mine. Because he knew I’d been there, sampled the food as always.

But I understood their culture. And I was willing to take some time to learn about his culture, about his language. It really helped break down some of the barriers that we had later on where we had to work out some problems. But again, because…

We had strengthened that relationship through just learning a few things about their culture, and being able to say “hello”, “how are you?”, “thank you”, “goodbye”. That went a long way to help create that intimate relationship.

Compassion: Reaching Out to Someone Who Says They’re Fine

Allison: Such gold advice! Thank you. Your book is about failure and resistance and compassion and opportunity and vision and initiative and discipline and the essence of the book of virtues that I think certainly our nation needs to be relying on as we struggled through the variety of things that we have going on right now. Because we’re finding our way forward. Is there any final advice that you would suggest to those who recognize that we need to adjust and overcome?

Mark: There’s a chapter in the book where I talk about compassion. It’s something that you’re not seeing a lot in the news right now… reaching out to help somebody that is having a hard time.

There’s a story in the book which talks about, I was watching CNN one night at work, you cannot believe the number of times the American military has spun up based on a CNN news report! I could go on about that.

Allison: I can imagine.

Mark: Yeah, this particular night, actually, it was in the morning. We were watching the TV screen. And Korean Airlines Flight 801 crashed in the mountains, the hills short of the runway at Agana, Guam. I reached over and I grabbed my boss and said, “We’re gonna… we’re gonna get tasked here soon.”

Sure enough, about 30 minutes later, Vice President Al Gore’s office called, asking what can you guys do? And we were already working on a plan. One of the survivors, the only US survivor, if I remember right, was a little nine-year-old girl by the name of Gracie Chung. She was badly burned because she would not leave her mother. Many of the Koreans that were on the airplane were also badly burned.

But because the United States is such a compassionate nation… and I hope your audience understands that, in spite of all that you’re seeing on the news and all these terrible stories you’re hearing, we are a compassionate nation and whenever somebody needs help, who do they call? They always call the United States.

We had to develop a mission to take the National Transportation Safety Board Go-Team, about 17 people, from Washington DC to Guam, to investigate the crash. And while they were there, we had to bring some of these burn victims back home to the Army and military facility that specialized in burn victims. 

I think when we become successful and we have the ability to help people in need, whether it be monetarily, emotionally, spiritually, physically, whatever happens, whatever it might be, take those opportunities to show compassion. Even walking down the street. We have a great bike path behind us and I walk on it every day.

I always take the time to say hello to everybody I talked to… “How are you?” “How are you doing today?” I think this world would be so much better if we just took the time to show a little bit more compassion to those around us, compassion to those that need help, compassion to people when they say, “Oh, I’m fine.”

You know, we all know what fine really means.

Lift them up and take every opportunity you can, particularly when you become successful. It gives you a greater ability to show compassion.

That’s one of the great things that I’ve learned through not only my personal life, but my military career. That was probably one of the most rewarding missions I helped plan and execute. That’s one that has always stuck in my mind.

Knowing that little Gracie Chung and five other of these Koreans were able to come here to the states, get treated, and having a hand and being able to bring them back.

Unfortunately, Gracie died during her third surgery, but four Korean nationals had a great story to tell when they got home. And there’s a monument on the Nimitz Hill now.

And every year, they have a lot of the passengers come back. And you know, they say cantations and they hug each other and they’re constantly telling the Americans, “We are so happy you guys got involved in this. Great amount of compassion you showed us by helping us.”

“Embrace Failure as an Opportunity to Learn”

Allison: I can’t thank you enough for your service, first and foremost.

Secondly, for sharing such sage advice… so building trust and creating strong relationships, you showing compassion to those people you come across.

And then my two favorites, which are the Vector Check idea. Like, I think I may actually give you 100% credit for it, but I feel like it has to be part of my compass, my Deliberate Directions concepts. So going on out into world embrace the suck, right?

Mark: Yeah. Yeah…

Embrace failure as an opportunity to learn. And a lot of times we think, “Oh my gosh, you know this really sucks!” Everything like that, you need to turn the mindset around. What am I to learn from this? Is there a skill set I need? Is there a mindset that I need to change?

Failure and what it does to us is something positive. And that’s one of the things that I speak about in a keynote speech. I give a keynote called “Aviate, Navigate and Communicate,” and I use God’s Vector Check during that speech to talk about it.

Allison: Maybe I’ll go and search that one afterward, listen to it so that I can do it justice.

Tanker Pilot is available on Amazon. Thank you so much. It has been such a pleasure, spending time with you here today.

Mark: Thank you very much for having me on. I really enjoyed this. And remember, audience…

Good days are coming. The great days are just around the corner. You’ll be good.

Allison: Excellent advice. Thank you. 

Mark: You’re welcome.

I'm Allison Dunn,

Your Business Executive Coach

Join our list for exclusive tips, content and a welcome gift – our ebook on how to engage your team and boost profits.