This is a Story About My Grandfather and the Stars

January 10, 2016


Even if my grandfather weren’t my grandfather, I would still find him fascinating. His house is filled with old clocks and barometers. He builds ponds in his backyard filled with coy and his workshop used to house a family of finches. He tamed a wolf and kept her as a pet until she passed. He paints like Andrew Wyeth. He has seen the world. He is a great story teller. And as someone that was in the Air Force most of his life, he has a lot of stories.

One of my favorite stories he told me on his 80th birthday…

We sat at the round kitchen table he had since I was a child. He was smiling so big I couldn’t see his eyes anymore. We were talking about astrology, the stars, and about his life as a pilot in the Air Force.

“You know when we flew, there was no GPS.” He looked at me shaking his head seriously. He paused dramatically as he often does, opened his eyes wide and laughed.

“The stars were our GPS.”

This thought was a bit shocking to me. First, as a Millennial it is hard for me to ever think of a world before computers. It is almost like life started with AOL dial up internet. But I also have to confess, I grew up in Kansas City, a small city of 2 million, and I still have to use GPS to navigate. (I hate when people direct me to go North on Grand Street.)

I can’t imagine flying through the sky WITHOUT something like Garmin or MapQuest.

“So how did you get where you needed to go?” I asked.

“There was this tool, you would stick out of the top of the plane.” He stopped. He paused and had a sip of his Manhattan. “It was called… a Sextant maybe, doesn’t matter.  We used that to navigate. We used it to measure the distance between the land and stars, you see,” he pointed towards the sky.

“Did you ever get lost?”

He smiled. “The North Star helps you stay on track. But lost, yes, that happens. But in war you try really hard not to, because you don’t want to land in enemy territory.”

It was one of those moments that I realized we really were from different worlds.

But I also realized the overwhelm I felt about the amount of projects I had due in the next week felt very small.  I don’t mean small like my work was insignificant. I mean small, like everything that had been feeling so hard, suddenly felt possible. All of a sudden I felt like I had everything I needed.

It also made me wonder, How did my grandfather handle that amount of uncertainty? How could I handle uncertainty differently?

As an entrepreneur it is really tempting to look for GPS or a template, map, cheat sheet or equation that will make you successful immediately. It is tempting to look for that plan that takes away the guess work.

But like life, business doesn’t work that way.

There is no map.

There is no certainty.

There is no one-size fits all solution to success.

You have to do the work.

You have to find your North Star, plot, measure, fly.

When you get lost you have to plot, measure and fly again.

You might get to your destination and realize it isn’t really where you need to be.

Your determination is the only thing you can make certain.

If you keep with it, eventually you will find where you need to go.

I want to know about your wins and fails this year. What worked? What didn’t? Share your story here.

With gratitude,


P.S. Do you need help plotting the uncertainty of 2016?  Let me help you find your North Star. Book a consult and copy review with me here.  


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