Monday, February 6, 2017


"Breakaway, breakaway, breakaway."  I could hear the words in my headset like someone other than me was saying them.  We were 25,000 feet up in the cold February air over Norway.  Our Marine Corps C-130 Airborne Refueler was refueling a couple of F-4 Phantoms.  

We were at war.

Or, at least war-games.  But, what just happened was no game.

One of the Phantoms was plugged in and was receiving fuel when he inexplicably and suddenly dived sharply down.  The hose ripped from the paradrogue and fuel was spewing wildly everywhere.  The Phantom reacted by pulling up and directly into the spray of fuel from the spewing hose.  The raw fuel entered his jet intake killing one of his engines immediately.

Our pilot swiftly and sharply banked out of the situation while the Phantom with one engine down banked the other way.

The Breakaway procedure worked.  We secured the situation and headed back to base to debrief with the Phantom pilot.  A major disaster could have occurred in an instant.  It was a dangerous situation.  But, breaking away from it it is what saved us and our aircraft.

The Breakaway Procedure is not just for high-flying military missions that flirt with danger.  The Breakaway Procedure can be used in everyday life too.

A Breakaway is nothing more than the creation of separation from a particular situation that you perceive as being dangerous, unhealthy, unkind or even just uncomfortable.  The range of situations is virtually endless.

A simple situation might be when someone stops by your office to “chat.”  This person is nothing more than a time-suck and doesn’t make your day any better.  They just waste your time.  

It’s time for a Breakaway.

More serious situations may come from a bad habit that you've lost control of. Someone might be eating too much, drinking too much, spending too much or gambling too much. Whichever of these situations has taken hold.

It is time for a Breakaway.

The key to calling the Breakaway is knowing when to do it. More importantly, is having the courage to do it.  

The situation where a fighter jet almost runs into your transport plane is an easy call.  We were getting out of an extreme, life-threatening situation and into safety. This is an obvious no-brainer.

But, what about other less obvious situations?

When that time-suck shows up in your office and starts wasting your time, the Breakaway would work great if there was no consequence.

But, what if that time-suck was the CEO's favorite? Or, you have difficulty asking people to leave because you're too busy for idle chit-chat. It's not so easy anymore.

It is hard to call the Breakaway in any situation that is ambiguous and complex.  It becomes even more difficult when it involves other people. Or, it is a person you need to Breakaway from.

Calling the Breakaway when there is little immediate danger is the toughest. But, often it can have the biggest payoff.

So, how do you create the leverage you need to call the Breakaway?

The beauty of the Breakaway is less about what you give up and more about what you gain. It is about the reduction of pain and the increase of pleasure. The power of the Breakaway can be leveraged when you focus on what you are gaining.

Focusing on the gain gives you the courage and the leverage to take action.

Getting rid of the guy wasting your time at the office is gaining your time back. Getting rid of the junk food in your cupboard is gaining your health back. Getting rid of the junk TV is getting your life back.

It has been said that all personal breakthroughs are the result of a break-with. Or, a Breakaway from something.

A Breakaway from an addiction, a bad habit, a bad relationship. A breakaway can lead you to your Awesomeness. It may lead you to realize your personal potential.

But, only if you make the Breakaway.

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