I’m up at 5,000 feet, soaring above the vast expanse of Alaska in the spring. A bluebird, CAVOK (ceiling and visibility okay) kind of day. Perfect for flying
I can see views in every direction. The Alaska Range behind us with Mt. McKinley (Denali or The Great One to the locals), the Talkeetnas, Sleeping Lady, the Tokositnas, Peters Hills, the Chugach and Cook Inlet all around us.
As I peer down, relaxing into the seat of this candy apple red 180 bush plane, I gaze at the shapes the glaciers carved out of the land.
I imagine this valley when glaciers reigned in this wild place. The marks left behind now filled with water. Lakes, rivers, and swamps now full of wildlife.
“The ice looks like it will go out and sink to the bottom of the lakes in the next week or two,” I say.
Silence on the intercom.
I look at my pilot to make sure he isn’t sleeping. Nope. Not sleeping. But not speaking either.
“Say that again,” he says.
“The ice should go out on the lakes soon,” I say.
“No, the part about how it happens.”
“The ice melts around the shores because the darkness of the dirt attracts heat from the sun.
Once it’s loose, the ice sinks to the bottom of the lake.”
“That’s what I thought you said.”
Nausea sets in. My cheeks are hot.
“You know, that’s the crazy thing about ice. It doesn’t sink,” he says after a long pause.
“Sure it does,” I say.
“Have you ever seen it?”
“Well, no. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen it for myself.”
“Yeah, it’s a fascinating thing about ice. It doesn’t sink. You’d think it would, but it doesn’t. Ice is less dense than water, so it floats to the top. Only smaller bodies of water freeze solid when the temps are cold enough. Think about ice cubes in a glass.”
Now I’m silent.
Let me be clear, I’m not an idiot. I’m well read, I had high marks in school and did well in english, math and science. I oversaw a technology and mapping department for several years. People promoted me for being smart. Yet, I’m just now realizing that I thought that large hunks of ice sank to the bottom of lakes when the ice “goes out” each spring, and I feel ridiculous.
No one ever taught me that ice sinks. I don’t think anyone gave me misinformation. It’s just what I’ve thought since I was a kid.
This is a guidepost on your journey.
Test your thoughts to see if they are true.
Whether it's a scientific fact you missed, a belief, a cultural norm or a perception, test everything you think. Ask yourself if it's true. Is it always true?
Ice sinks is a pretty simple thought to test, it's easy to prove right or wrong scientifically. But there are other thoughts that are deeper, darker, more dangerous and more important to test. You know the thoughts I mean. They race around in your head like an F16...
“I’ll never be good enough.”
“I need to settle down and get a good job and stop wasting my life chasing my dream.”
“No one likes me.”
“You can’t provide for your family and have what you want too.”
“You can’t have it all.”
...and my favorite…
“This is as good as it gets.”
Test your thoughts to see if they are true.
For one reason or another we think what we think. How our thoughts arrive in our heads isn’t so important. What is important is checking to make sure they are true and that they serve us well.
You wouldn’t get in an airplane that hasn’t gone through testing (okay, not true for you test pilots reading this, just for the rest of you…)
And yet we let false thoughts take hold and limit our lives without ever checking in to see if they are true. And we all do it.
Some of what you think is true, but other thoughts are keeping you from your deepest desires. They hold you back like someone nailed down your tail wheel.
If your flight plan is built on “this is as good as it gets,” you will end up building a life for yourself that you don’t really like.
Sometimes it’s embarrassing to realize that what you’ve thought all along isn’t true. (After a quick check - I find no case studies regarding death from embarrassment.) Sometimes it’s lap-smacking hysterical.
I mean, ice sinking to the bottom of a lake? That’s funny. At least now it’s funny... funny because I can laugh at myself. Actually, it's only funny now because I was willing to test all the mean thoughts that came up in my head when my mind was racing in the silence.
Remember the silence on the intercom while my pilot composed a kind response? My mind went batshit crazy with untrue thoughts of how dumb I was, how stupid could I be and how he thinks I’m a dumb blonde.
But after I considered the truth of each “I’m so dumb” thoughts, I realized how funny the situation was… and still is to this day.
We all have these goofy thoughts. Some are funny, some make you angry and some leave you hopeless.
Are your thoughts keeping you stuck at work while you die inside not reaching for your dreams? Hitting a wall “doing the right thing” to please your boss, your spouse or your parents?
Relax, it’s 100% normal.
AND You have the power to change it.
Testing your thoughts for truth sets you on the path to more success in your career. A future full of freedom.
So go test it out. See if ice sinks…