Every time I hear the word “self-employed” or “solopreneur” (a solo entrepreneur), it makes me want to vomit. Let me explain why…
It was January of 2002, and I was stationed at Moody Air Force Base (AFB), living by myself in Valdosta, Georgia, because Beth was finishing college in Hawaii. We had been together at Christmas as a family, but vacation was over. Pilot training was back in full swing.
Air Force pilot training is hard, even if everything goes right. (I was reminded of this many times in the past eight months, as I re-qualified in the T-6 at Randolph AFB from July-November, and then completed the local area orientation check-out at Columbus AFB, a pilot training base in Mississippi.) But I knew that pilot training was a step in the direction of my dreams to become a test pilot.
That January, things started to go sour. The first time I flew a loop, the airplane went one way, and my stomach went the other. The second time, the airplane went one way, and my lunch went another! Airsickness–at this particular stage of the program–was a major problem. I was on the verge of washing out, perilously close to failing pilot training.
The Air Force has an extensive torture program designed just for this kind of situation, and its code name is the Barany Chair.
Spinning in Circles
I cannot even begin to describe the experience. You can see this device in the picture here, but I assure you, the team that follows real Barany Chair protocol does not smile like these airmen are.
For ten minutes at a time, the aerospace physiologist would spin me around, having me move my head this way and that–stimuli to aggravate the inner ear and induce motion sickness. They build up the stimuli–the first time, you just feel a little bit sick, and then they reduce it. The second time, it’s a little bit sicker. After that ten minutes is up, there is a ten minute rest followed by two more cycles like this. Most times, the protocol ended with the must gut wrenching vomiting…on the good days.
On the bad days, the days I didn’t void my stomach, I felt even worse. I don’t know why, but a recently vacated stomach left…nothing left to be upset about…and actually felt better. The protocol was horrific. I hated it. Despair is the only word I can use to describe that situation.
Every night that week, I would call Beth: “I just want to quit. Pilot training isn’t worth this.” She voiced encouragement. (This wasn’t the first time, and it hasn’t been the last time.)
Walking in Circles
German scientists demonstrated that people who are lost end up walking in circles. Furthermore there seemed to be no systematic bias evident–variation occurred in both directions. This happened when outside sensory cues were absent or diminished. When the sun was out, the “lost” had something with which to guide their way.
It’s hard to imagine walking in circles by accident–it’s hard to imagine getting lost. We live in a world of interstate highways and sidewalks and “you are here” signs. For those of us who venture out into nature, it’s usually on a trail system or loop. As long as we stay on the path, we won’t get lost.
Exploring uncharted territory doesn’t come naturally in today’s day and age. In Poke the Box author Seth Godin says, “Human nature is to need a map.” It’s also human nature to need a GPS in our cars, on our bikes, and in our phones.
What if I lose sight of the sun?
If your dream is big enough, it takes you into uncharted territory, off of the sidewalks and highways.
Sometimes, I lose sight of the sun. It’s easy to lose sight of the sun when you are spinning in circles on a Barany chair or staring at the bottom of a barf bag. I didn’t need to see it, though–Beth was still looking up. She could see the sun.
So every time I hear the word “self-employment” or “solopreneur,” it reminds me of a time and place…that I don’t want to revisit. I can almost taste the bile in my mouth. Any journey of value wasn’t meant to be travelled alone.
What I’m saying is, we need someone–I’ve got Beth–to help us see the way the Son is leading us. That’s three people–at a minimum–in this thing that I personally don’t want to call “self-employment.”
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