landing planes

{photo credit: josemanuelerre via photopin cc}

“The thing about big projects is that they tend to be less like one, giant to-do list, and more like landing planes – lots of planes – jet liners, twin prop Cessnas, helicopters – that just keep coming.

With large projects there are always things flying through the air that you must carefully place on the ground.

Some planes need to be coordinated one at time, and others come at you all at once. Some come down nice and easy, and some have turbulent landings.

The thing about landing planes, however, is that you never really feel ‘finished’ in the same way you do after checking everything off your to-do list, because you know that there is always another plane on the horizon.

Airports donʼt shut down and neither do big projects.

The planes just keep coming.

After auditions, you have to figure out wardrobe. Once you have the wardrobe finished, you need to walk everyone through their paces. Once youʼre on set, everyone needs to be directed. And then once you start you shooting, you realize all the changes you need to make.

Plane after plane after plane.

For a long time I felt defeated by the onslaught of planes. It seemed like nothing was ever really getting done.

And if by some off chance I was beginning to feel like I could breathe again, or like we were actually getting somewhere, inevitably some other problem would occur.

And then I thought,

This is the creative process, stop complaining! Itʼs messy! Itʼs rarely mappable! It is always dynamic and ever-changing!

Obviously you make plans, but factors outside of your control change all the time. Locations fall through. People donʼt deliver. Life happens.

So instead of holding my breath until ‘things are done,’ Iʼm starting to breathe while Iʼm ‘doing the things.’

I do my stretches and I turn into an air traffic controller. I do it with joy and excitement because, Iʼm getting to land planes!

As Seth Godin says, we should be so lucky as to be people who get to solve interesting problems.

Landing planes means weʼre not on the sideline of ideation but weʼre executing, which means weʼre getting closer to making our visions come to life.

It will always be hard, but it should also be fun.

Every landed plane deserves some kind of celebration.

Whether it be a quick toast or a high five, you absolutely must celebrate along the way.

One last thought on landing planes. As you put those puppies on the ground, know that you have a choice. Landing planes can be exhausting and defeating, OR it can be exciting and hopeful.

Each new plane coming your way can feel like itʼs driving you deeper into the ground of despair as you cry out, ‘No, not another one!’ Or, you can see these planes as yet another amazing chance for you to be better, to grow, to try, and to get you one step closer to making your dream a reality.

Breathe. Do your stretches. Donʼt freak out. Land those planes. Celebrate each one that hits the tarmac.

Then repeat, repeat, repeat.”

… … …

Above is my favorite excerpt from Blaine Hogan‘s book, Untitled. In ministry, I often felt exactly how he described—nothing ever really seemed “finished”. Each completion or victory would just bleed straight into the ongoing work that still needed to be done. I so appreciate Blaine’s challenge to breathe “while I’m doing the things” and to find ways to celebrate the accomplishments along the way. A good and timely word for my heart.

Anything stand out to you in this passage?

Buy a copy of Untitled >


15 Responses to “landing planes”
  1. Jim Fulmer says:

    Same thing with the mail…

    btw, airports can and do shut down – frequently.

  2. I love this. And I love to land the planes if only because it means I get to celebrate a little. I love a good celebration ;-)

  3. faith says:

    About half way through reading this and thinking of how it pertains to your life, something switched over and said “this is my life as a mom and home maker!” I can usually see the fun and joy in the moments with my boys but this wonderful house and all the work that comes with it can sure feel like planes flying right at me. Over and over again. I need to find a way to keep at it and not let it knock me down…

  4. Ellie says:

    To not hold your breath but keep breathing….

    I needed that. Especially today, especially now. Wow. Breathe, live…

  5. That photograph is ah-mazing! Love it!

  6. Alece,

    Thank you for such a vivid illustration of life! Yes, I am totally an air traffic controller in my house! If you only knew!

    “This is the creative process, stop complaining! Itʼs messy! Itʼs rarely mappable! It is always dynamic and ever-changing!”

    This describes my life as a mother of nine, including 4 TEENAGE girls, home school teacher, home maker, church youth leader, business owner, wife to a shepherd man and passionate Jesus follower learning to love like only God can teach me with an ever increasing burden to stand up for the Truth.

    Life is anything but calm these days and your encouragement to celebrate each landing is received.

    Much thanks.

  7. faith says:

    Been thinking this over more everyday…

  8. Rachy says:

    Thank you for sharing this. This is so applicable to my job where there are always more things to do. It’s a great attitude shift.

  9. Yeller says:

    “Landing planes means weʼre not on the sideline of ideation but weʼre executing, which means weʼre getting closer to making our visions come to life.”

    This is a good word for a crazy life with to-do’s… Sometimes it’s hard to see the big picture behind the lists. I like it. Thanks for posting.

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