The Happy Engineer Podcast

039: Conquer Your Fears and Build Resilience with F-16 Pilot Waldo Waldman

Are your attempts at reaching the next level “all thrust and no vector?”  Has the fuel of your engineering passion burned out, leaving you without a victory?

Can you imagine being an Air Force F-16 fighter pilot who is afraid of heights and claustrophobic?

In this episode, be prepared to fly higher than ever before with Lt. Col. Waldo Waldman, The Wingman. He is a Hall of Fame leadership speaker, executive coach, and the author of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal Bestseller “Never Fly Solo.”

Get ready for full throttle.

As a combat decorated F-16 fighter pilot, Waldo shares gripping stories and strategies on overcoming obstacles, performing under pressure, and how to create a resilient, courageous, “One Team, One Mission” culture of collaboration and trust.

He broke through a lifelong fear of heights and overcame claustrophobia as a fighter pilot.

And he is going to show you how to break through any barrier you face.

So press play and let’s chat…because now is your time for courageous leadership!



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Let me do my best to be your wingman for this episode. 

I want to challenge you around the idea of pain, discomfort, the struggle, the idea of facing resistance throughout your day. Tell me about your day. Tell me what you’re doing. Tell me what you’re doing that is causing you to feel uncomfortable, to feel that pain, to feel that resistance, that thing that hurts when you have to face it and move through it. 

Because pain leads to peace. 

This is huge. It addresses the difference between massive action and passive action in your life. 

  • Massive action moves the needle towards the vector that matters for you. Massive action is doing the work that actually gets results. It means facing that discomfort. It means stretching outside your comfort zone, taking real action that moves the needle toward the goal.
  • Passive action, on the other hand, are those things we do that feel like progress, but they don’t actually move the needle. Some of those activities are “good” in that maybe we’re learning, we’re absorbing new ideas and information, etc. But if we don’t put them into practice, then nothing actually happens.


Reading this blog and listening to the podcast, for example, is a passive action. If all you ever do is listen to the podcast, and you’re not taking real action in your own career and life with what you’re hearing, then this podcast is doing you no good! 

Assessing pain in your day is a really strong indicator of massive action or passive action. No pain? You are not outside the comfort zone, and are probably not taking massive action.

You may feel really, really busy. You feel like you’re not able to fit anything more into your life. You’re taking care of work, you’re taking care of the family, you’re taking care of your community, your church, your health, and you feel full. You feel busy, you feel a bit burned out. 

Well, how do you know if the things that you’re doing are training you to reach the next level? Or are you doing the same things over and over and over again that are not taking you anywhere? 

The pain in your day is a really simple assessment to take.


Let’s touch on one other powerful point from this episode. 

Who are you flying for? 

I think that’s so important. I’ve coached hundreds of engineering leaders around the world, and one thing is consistent. Your purpose has an element of community and connection in this life. Who are you flying for? When I do life purpose statements with our clients, I find every single time that there is a key dimension of “who” in their final answer.

Why is that? Because purpose and courage is love in action.

Love is such a powerful emotion. Think about that person who you love most, maybe who you’re in an intimate relationship with. You can talk about love. You can tell them that you love them. But if you don’t show love through action, how does that go? 

I know if my wife reads this, she’ll probably remind me that I need to put love in action a little bit more! It’s easy to make that mistake of simply feeling love and not showing it through action. 

Now, take it out of the relationship context, and think more broadly. Think about courage and service as love in action.

What else do we love in life? I love making a difference. I love helping people. I love a good challenge. I love to overcome challenges and face these big obstacles and create stuff. Hey, we’re engineers! 

>> So what ACTION will you take in those areas?

Capture at least five tiny actions today. Put those actions on paper and get specific. Then listen to this episode if you haven’t already. I hope what Waldo shared with you really sticks with you and transforms your life. It won’t be easy, but remember… 

Pain leads to peace!

Keep going, it’s worth it. 

OACO is here to help. 

I’ll see you on the other side.

Previous Episode 038: The Revolution of Efficiency with Andrea Dallan




Lt. Col. Waldo Waldman, The Wingman, is a Hall of Fame leadership speaker, executive coach, and the author of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal Bestseller Never Fly Solo. He teaches organizations how to build trusting, revenue producing relationships with their employees, partners, and customers while sharing his experiences as a combat decorated F-16 fighter pilot, sales manager, and entrepreneur.

In addition to his time in the military, Waldo has real world corporate sales and management experience and is an expert on change management, peak performance, and resilience – having broken through a lifelong fear of heights and overcoming claustrophobia as a fighter pilot. A key message in his inspirational “Never Fly Solo” signature keynotes and seminars is that you can’t reach your highest potential alone. You need wingmen – trusted partners – to help you win when adversity strikes.

His compelling stories and strategies on overcoming obstacles, performing under pressure, and servant-based leadership are extremely relevant to organizations who seek to create a resilient, courageous, “One Team, One Mission” performance-focused culture of collaboration and trust.

Waldo is a graduate of the Air Force Academy and the founder of The Wingman Foundation, a 501(c)(3) whose mission is to build funds and awareness for veterans in need. He is an inductee into the Professional Speakers Hall of Fame, a prestigious award that honors speakers who have reached the top echelon of platform excellence and has been bestowed on less than 200 speakers worldwide. He speaks internationally for clients including Marriott, American Express, AT&T, Procter & Gamble, The Denver Broncos, and Home Depot, and has been featured on Fox & Friends, CNN, MSNBC, Inc. Magazine and The Harvard Business Review.





Please note the full transcript is 90-95% accuracy. Reference the podcast audio to confirm exact quotations.

[00:00:00] Zach White: Well though, thanks again for making time to be with the Happy Engineers and myself today. It’s an absolute pleasure to have you, former Lieutenant Colonel Air Force, an F 16 fighter pilot, to tell us just in brief, a little bit about that background and your history to set the stage for where we may go in this conversation.

[00:00:18] Waldo Waldman: great to be here with you, Zach. Looking at I’m a past fighter pilot, father of an of 11 year old, happily married, dodging marriage missiles occasionally like most of us, right. Life is good for me, but, you know, I like to think of myself as an overachiever in some way, like most of your listeners, I love challenges.

Expand to Read Full Transcript

[00:00:39] And excitement and change. And still for me, the conduit to the, at a great conduit was to be in the military and to be a pilot and above all to be a fighter pilot because that’s the pointing edge of the sphere. So I decided to become a fighter pilot was, was honored to with and learn from amazing men and women, uh, 65 combat missions over the years, uh, in Kosovo and Serbia and Iraq, and then wean my way through.

[00:01:05] Uh, joined the reserve, went to business school, got into sales with a technology company, and then in mergers and acquisitions. And I’ve been speaking and doing business coaching, uh, for the last 19 years. So, uh, that’s kind of a broad brush stroke, but for me, it’s always doing something that’s challenging and.

[00:01:22] Zach White: That’s tremendous. And Walter, thank you for your service. Uh, truly, truly appreciate that. You just made a comment that triggered something for me. This is totally unexpected to go here, but you mentioned the, the tip of the spear and, and I wear this, uh, little Arrowhead every day and people who follow me know about the fact that the symbol in my life is that idea of wanting to be the tip of the spear in every area.

[00:01:46] That I perform and active in, in the world. And tell me for you, w where did that become a focus or how does that come to life for you? That. 

[00:01:57] Waldo Waldman: Well, uh, I like competition. Call it a dysfunction, perhaps, maybe not getting enough love as a child, having an identical twin brother beating the heck out of each other, growing up.

[00:02:06] Right. So I like the thrill of winning. I like the juice, the flavor, the feeling of knowing that not only did I overcome the competition, but I overcame. Right. And we’ll talk a little bit about this and how it shows up in our lives. But for me, uh, as, as a 53 year old guy, I’m in business for awhile, I like to win.

[00:02:27] However, sometimes as I’m learning, winning may mean losing the battle to win the. Yeah. Winning may be being okay with being in a support role, doing your job, saluting smartly, being that wing man to the flightless. And saying I’m okay with that because I have a job to do. I have a responsibility and I’m going to do it to the best of my absolute ability.

[00:02:53] You’ve got engineers, top guns, high, high bay individuals. Sometimes the best thing you could do, and many times you do in your world is to be that support asset. You may not be tip of the spear in sales or business development, or have a seat at the table all the time, but to be honorable in life, to feel good about who you are.

[00:03:14] Sometimes it takes more courage. To humble yourself, sublimate yourself to a greater cause and say, you know what I’m supporting, and I’m going to kick some ass in a support role and I’m going to do my job. And when I’m asked to lead and be the pointing edge of the spear, I’ll do that as well. But, uh, there’s different ways that we can lead, uh, with the context of getting the mission done.

[00:03:34] And you may not always need to be out front. 

[00:03:37] Zach White: I love that. I want to dig into so much of what you just said, but before I do, can you take us back? To the origin point where Waldo fell in love with the idea of being a pilot. I pictured myself as a little kid. I had all the fighter jet models and I’d run around the house, you know, making noise, pretending to be one.

[00:03:57] And I didn’t end up one. And you did. So where did that part of you get us? Get it start while though, when did you know, this is what I’m going to do with my life? So my 

[00:04:05] Waldo Waldman: dad was a mechanic. At Kennedy airport in New York city for like 35, 40 years was a crew chief in the Navy as well. Uh, so I remember when I was 10 or 11 years old, my dad took me and my identical twin brother, Dave to the airport for a little tour to show what he did.

[00:04:21] Pop this into the cockpit. I saw the machine. I actually think I have a picture here. I’ll show you pop this into the cockpit. This is a, actually, this is a, a F 16, but a little different than a 7 47. But essentially I started to play with the switches and said, dad would just please for, and he said, it’s a cockpit.

[00:04:38] It’s where the pilot flies the plane. And I knew then that I didn’t want to fix the planes. Like my dad, I wanted to fly him. And so I remember. Something to the effect of, Hey, you know, that’s a great idea, Rob, but, uh, that may not be the best career choice. Cause you’re massively afraid of Heights. Uh, and, uh, and I said, uh, told them I’d find a way.

[00:04:56] And so my passion was greater than my fear. I, I just got that glimpse, you know, the smell of jet fuel, looking at the engines and then, uh, in the cockpit. And then when I got older in high school, uh, the, my, my guidance counselor, Introduced me to the air force academy. He knew I was basically an overachiever and wanted to show me, Hey, here’s something that you could do to be with great men and women, top performing leaders.

[00:05:20] And if you want to fly great place to go as well. So basically that’s kind of the impetus to it. But I remember as a kid playing soccer, looking at the planes, you know, calling them out, that’s a 7.7, that’s a DC and that’s a, Lockie down 11 and everybody’s like, you’re manic about planes, but. Yeah, 

[00:05:37] Zach White: they’re supposed to be looking at the grass, but then you stop looking at, yeah, we’re playing soccer.

[00:05:42] Waldo Waldman: Maybe I was on the sidelines too much more than I would’ve liked, who knows. But, uh, so that, that’s basically what it was and I was just fascinated with it and became passionate about it. And that passion overcame my fear. And that’s really what courage is. It’s stepping outside of your comfort zone and saying, Hey, I may be afraid of Heights.

[00:06:00] And, uh, I also became claustrophobic, which is another part of the story that we can share. But when you look at courageous leadership, which is something that you talk about, it’s, it’s the ability to not be fearless. Which a lot of speakers and gets filled in talking about. I just think that’s not a context of humanity.

[00:06:21] That’s common or normal, the fear, the bubbling up of anxiety, the stress that the, some of the pain that goes through the preparation needed to step out of your comfort zone requires courage and, uh, flying through. Taking some risks stepping out of your comfort zones, jumping off the 33 feet high diving boards, which I needed to do to graduate the academy and facing my fear of Heights or things that we need to do in our personal lives.

[00:06:47] So the question I guess, your audience needs to hear is what is that discomfort that 33 feet high diving board, that panic attack, that fear that’s kind of latent inside of you are very present every day that you need to break free. In order to accomplish your goals with your dreams, get the promotion, et cetera.

[00:07:07] So 

[00:07:08] Zach White: this is super interesting. And most people that I meet assume that, Hey, you’re a special breed. If you become a fighter pilot, you must have loved Heights and you must be really good in small spaces. And this all came naturally to you. And I’m here to just say like total opposite and tell us about like the journey through that fear.

[00:07:28] What is that like? And then how does. Put that into their own journey. Just share with us, like what, what is that all about? 

[00:07:33] Waldo Waldman: So, and we could talk about this for a few hours. Uh, the number one thing you have to think about is what is on the opposite side of that fear. Like, you need to know the meaning to your mission.

[00:07:40] I call it the why before you fly, like, what is it that you’re going for? That if, when you strap it to your plane, Your cockpit of life and faced the fears, the missiles, the turbulence, the headwinds, et cetera, that you’re willing to grind through that and face that because there’s a gift, the benefit a goal achieved.

[00:08:00] On the other side, that’s going to fulfill you very deeply, very intrinsically, and many of us fly by the seat of our pants or we, we wing it or we just don’t have this vector, this true north of what we’re doing every day. And this, in my opinion, is the gift of having a long-term compelling goal that stretches you.

[00:08:18] This is the gift for me, uh, as a father of an 11 year old, that, that drives me a lot of what I do and what I’ve done is for the gift and the example I could set to my son. Uh, and to the people that I mentor formally and informally. And so for me, it’s always sending the example. Okay. Number one. So, so what is it that, that the meaning and you, you have to think about it as a, as a somebody listening to this or in life.

[00:08:46] What is it? What is it that I’m doing? Why do I really want to do this? Is it my ego? It can only last so long. Is there something outside of yourself? Something that, you know, this is going to drive you. That’s that’s, that’s the big thing you need that true north. Right? Any thoughts on 

[00:09:01] Zach White: that, Jack? What I’m curious about, I love this concept.

[00:09:03] And one thing I hear from people I speak to is a bit of maybe I’ll call it a wavering faith about what’s on the other side of fear is worth it. Like, I, I know. Hope it is that I’m going towards, but between me and that thing is fear. And I don’t actually know if I’m going to get it on the other side. So this, idea of is my true north is my vision that I’m aiming towards.

[00:09:31] Like, will it actually happen if I face all these obstacles? And, and sometimes there’s a wavering faith that actually then takes that fuel out of there. There’s just, they don’t have the right. They don’t. Do those hard things. And I’m curious for you, how do you build that, that deep sense of faith and confidence or conviction that it’s worth it, that going across, you know, pushing through this will actually take me where I was.

[00:09:56] Waldo Waldman: Well, you, you need an example in some way in your life of somebody who’s achieved or have a taste of what it’s like to achieve. Right? Like some people have dreams, but they, but they may be somebody else’s dream or they don’t really know what it’s like. Like it’s like for me, I didn’t really know. I had a dream to fly fighters or planes until my dad sat me in the car.

[00:10:14] Yeah. When I recruited, when I recruited for the air force academy, some of these kids said you wanted to be in the military, they wanted to fly. Uh, and I’m like, well, have you ever, you know, have you ever sat in a plane? Have you ever talked to a pilot? Have you, what, what did you do? And they have this, this false sense of a dream that.

[00:10:28] Is may not even be their own or just some fantasy. So you need to put some bricks and mortar to that dream, whatever it is to, to see an example of that success. Like if you want to be black belt like Bruce Lee, right? I’m a big fan of Bruce Lee, you know, such an amazing legend. Even after decades of being gone.

[00:10:47] I witnessed that as somebody sees Chuck Yeager, right. Or swatches, the blue angels or Thunderbirds fly, they see, that’s what I want to do. I talked to other pilots and I studied aviation and learned about what people form it was. So, so it’s, it’s having an example, not just coming up with some false, uh, imaginary goal, but then seeking others who have been there and then looking for mentorship and guidance and, and, and helping you to prepare to get in that the sense of competence for me.

[00:11:20] No one that I was going to do the work that being in a fight upon getting accepted to the air force academy, being the best in class required me to do all the steps before that do well in school, be great at sports, uh, stat, uh, trouble, uh, volunteer for leadership positions. It honed my character and it caused some scars and calluses, but I’m competent as a man, as a human being, as a father, as a husband, because I do the work right.

[00:11:47] I’m doing the. And so any of you out there who are looking for this goal and this dream, and you’re looking to build up that confidence, you’d have to say, well, I’m reading the books, I’m attending the seminars. I’m listening to the podcast. I’m humbling myself asking for help when areas of that a week in my life, and then saying, who do I need to contact?

[00:12:07] What vector correction do I need to take? And who could be an example to me, a mentor or a coach to guide me on that path rather than. Flying along the world, a victim of change and circumstance. And as soon as the head winds come on, I’m just not going to do it. Uh, the fear is going to overwhelm me and you know, so those are some things I think you need to do 

[00:12:28] Zach White: this idea of, of the training, doing the work, putting in the.

[00:12:33] I’m curious for you. How do you discern the difference? If somebody is, is in that process, they’re doing the work they’re on their way toward their north star, toward their vision versus someone who’s doing. Work, but, but they’re actually just hiding in a comfort zone of, of kind of kind of doing the same thing over and over there.

[00:12:55] Maybe they’re over consume. They listen to podcasts all the time, but that’s all they do is listen. And they’re not actually moving towards the goal. What would you say or how would you help someone to discern which one of those two camps they might be in? Just stay in busy versus you’re training towards.

[00:13:14] Waldo Waldman: So you, you got assess the amount of pain and struggle that you go through your day. Right? I thought I, if I’m talking to somebody that’s learning or failing, I don’t think you fail you either learning or growing, right. You’re, you’re, you’re winning or learning and all those things are helping you to grow.

[00:13:27] Show me what you’re doing during your day. Tell me what you’re doing differently. Show me where you, sweat sacrifice felt a little pain in discount. When you show me that, then I’ll say, okay, you’re on a trajectory for growth and success. If you’re kind of comfortable doing what you’re doing, we’ve all heard this before, by the way, you’re comfortable doing what you’re doing then.

[00:13:46] you may just be philosophizing and what I call all thrust and no vector, right? For the engineers. I like that all through us to know back there, you need direction You need, you need movement into a certain area. And so, so this degree of pain that you’re willing to withstand, doing things a little differently, interrupting your standard protocol.

[00:14:03] Uh, that’s, that’ll lead to go. Then you could look at this and your health and fitness, and you’re working out. You know, I had this little, uh, uh, smoothie today. I’m kind of weaning myself with sugar, doing a little diet. He had to kind of clean up some of the residual COVID Colby calories, whatever I’m in pretty good shape, but I’m like, okay, I gotta get a little uncomfortable.

[00:14:20] I was in the gym yesterday. Uh, I went out of my way to make sure that, uh, Valentine’s day was a good experience for my family. Not, not the best. Right. I should’ve helped my wife cook dinner a little more, but I got everybody a car and my son caught her. I gave her a card for my dog and cat. Right. like, you have to look at some of the inconveniences in your life that will force you to go through a little pains, trials, tribulations, and grow.

[00:14:31] So that’s really, really key. And if you just kind of looking for excuses, You’re probably not going to be a, a evolving, 

[00:14:40] Zach White: that’s a really simple, but, but powerful messaging. Although maybe this is my perception. I’m curious if it’s yours, but I feel like that’s a counter-cultural thing to assess as a attribute of, are you moving towards success?

[00:14:53] We, we seem to want more vacations, more my ties on the beach, more, more ease in our life as the goal. And rather than to say, you know what really. If you’re not experiencing some trials and tribulations, some sweat, some challenge facing fear. You got a question. Are you all thrust? No vector. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:15:16] Would you agree? I mean, is that it feels counter-cultural to me. 

[00:15:19] Waldo Waldman: It is, it is, but he, here’s another thing that another point that forces me to step out of my comfort zone and help me accomplish my missions. In theory, I talked about having that compelling goal, that vision of what you want to become, but also the feeling that you get when you’re done going through the trial, when you’re done lifting the.

[00:15:38] It’s when you’re done going through the diet and you look at your body and you’re like, I lost six pounds and my body fat’s leaner. Um, the feeling, the juice, the energy, the, the, the mindset shift that happens when, you know, deep down that you accomplished the goal. And one that feeling, the endorphins that you, that you create, that that’s that inner juice that, that builds a confidence.

[00:16:01] So I have the same pain leads to peace. And peace, in my opinion is, is just being good at where you’re at. You’re comfortable where you’re at this disquiet competence that says I’m at peace now, because I know I did all the work, no one seen it. No one knows the study, the sweat, the sacrifice, the insight, then neglect that I had to put in my life in order to get gained something.

[00:16:27] So that piece is what we’re seeking and that joy that’s incumbent in that piece, knowing that you did the work. So when I would do these seven or eight hour night combat missions facing a panic attacks and a fear of Heights, I almost died in a scuba diving accident. Long story short folks. I developed claustrophobia three years into my flying career.

[00:16:47] few days after the scuba diving incident, I was flying along in terrible weather and had a panic attack. Develop claustrophobia. Like I got to get the heck out of this plane and soap for the next eight years of my 11 year flying career. Every time I strapped into that plane to do what I love more than anything else, I had to deal with dismissal, this, this demon that threatened to paralyze me and keep me in the hanger of fear instead of airborne facing my fears, courageous, potentially getting shot at, but living, being in the car.

[00:17:17] Not missing an action, but making it happen in the, in the sky. But so your ability to strap into that jet and face, those fears was, was, was, is, is critical. but after I did one mission after having a panic attack and landed freaked out, you know, and said, I can’t do this anymore. Put the wings back on, it said one more mission, one more flight, just stay one more step forward.

[00:17:40] It got easier and easier. So eight hour missions in Iraq or Kosovo, the missiles were bothering me, but the claustrophobia, that was the real fear. And when I land Zack and listeners I’d land in taxi and I’m like, man, no one knew the, the, the, the chaos that just ensued. No one knew that. Anxiety and craziness, this combat mission I had up here in my head and I’m taxing in San another victory over the most important enemy.

[00:18:08] A friend there is, which is ourselves. And I said, I did it. No one took that away from me. It was my own personal victory. And that’s what built up the resilience and, and my, my courage and my ability to build credibility in coaching people and doing my programs now. That’s the, the real juice. It’s not a full fee.

[00:18:26] Like, oh, it’s afraid of being rejected. I was afraid of being, you know, uh, yeah, I was, you know, I was Jewish fighter pilot. Right. You know, there was a little bit of, uh, uh, uh, No anti-Semitism growing up. I don’t live it as a victim. Right. I never looked at, you know, I’m, I’m a, I’m a female in a male’s world, or I’m a gay person in this anatomy.

[00:18:38] Some of these are significant fears that people have and insecurities, it’s common. We need to understand those fears, but I’m talking about 30,000 feet with missiles being launched, saying I got to bail out of this plane because I’m going to jump through my skin. I’m facing true. Not simulated or psychological PS.

[00:18:53] So what’s going to not discounting the fears that people have about their insecurities, because sometimes they can be worse than actual missiles coming at you. Right. But when we, we overcome ourselves, yes, that builds competence and it often, uh, caused a scar. But it builds up this sense of compassion and empathy that we need as leaders mostly with ourselves.

[00:19:08] When we do fail slash learn that we’re going to get back in the cop and say, I’m doing it again. I’ve got that true north. I want to get at that feeling again of overcoming myself. And that’s something that no other person can give you. 

[00:19:21] Zach White: Well, this really resonates for me. In my story, building my career engineering leader, things are going great.

[00:19:30] And, and the missiles in my day to day life, you know, dealing with challenges at work and solving big problems and hitting deadlines and meeting budgets, and you know, this, this sort of external stuff that was flying around, she had to deal with, you know? Yeah. Those things were at times scary to me, but I also had.

[00:19:47] Internal struggle of my marriage collapsing, you know, things at home, not going well, dealing with all this stuff in my own head. And so just this combination of like, yeah. There’s things in the world to be afraid of. But a lot of times we’ve got something between our ears. Causing just as much or more difficulty in moving through the day and both take courage to overcome.

[00:20:11] I found that true self-esteem is on the other side of that victory to your point, you know, when you do the hard thing you get through like that feeling you’re talking about, it’s the closest thing I can think of that relates to real genuine esteem is when you’ve gone through it to the other side. And that, that that’s, to me, that’s the only word I have for that feeling.

[00:20:30] I’m not sure there is another one, but. Awesome to hear that. What is for you then if you go into this stretch of the eight years after that happened, so you’re overcoming every single flight, this part of you that wants to say don’t get in the cockpit and you’re doing it anyway,  you’re doing it anyway.

[00:20:47] It starts to get easier. Like what for you is. The process of maintaining courage? Like, is it something that once you have it it’s always there or do you find it’s something you have to continuously face and work on? Or what what’s that strength or resilience you mentioned sort of building the resilience.

[00:21:04] How does that unfold? 

[00:21:06] Waldo Waldman: So this is really, really important. I want to go back a little bit on, on, you know, I call it envisioning the victory, envisioned the victory. So if you’re getting ready to fly, do something that, you know, you’re going to step out of your comfort zone with, you know, envision that feeling, the feeling of landing your jet accomplishing at, being on the stage, getting the promotion, getting the job, your spouse saying yes.

[00:21:25] Um, starting your own business. How does that feel? And get, let that embrace you. And, it kind of gives you True north once again, and then also, uh, for me the last thing, and then I want to get into that last question. It’s the next level of, of facing your fears is knowing who you’re flying for and facing your fears for.

[00:21:43] And so, as a parent, as a leader, as somebody who loves and truly wants to serve others, many times, you commit more and face more fears for others than you do for yourself. So when I was leading men and women in combat or supporting my leader as a, as a wing man, as a teammate, when I focused on them, when I said I have to support them, I got to have their back.

[00:22:08] I need to look out for the missiles and stay mission ready and be an asset as opposed to a liability. It got me focused on my responsibilities. As a fighter pilot with these wings on and I needed to do this for them. And it was my damn job. Still passionately gets us so far, our envisioning the victory and the joy and the thrill of victory can only get us so far, the next ultimate level.

[00:22:36] And truly the one that allows others to perform at knock some performance is to think outside of your car. Focus on that. Those who need you, who are depending on you and then get aligned with that, then you distract yourself from yourself. You’re like, well, I’m not even afraid anymore. And if you a parent afraid of Heights, looking at that 33 feet, I dive the board.

[00:23:00] If you’re a parent, you may not jump. But if you’re looking at your child drowning in the water, screaming, mommy, daddy helped me. You’re jumping, you’re doing it in a heartbeat. This is why, you know, service and courage is love in action. So, this is why so many of the great leaders in the warriors of the world, you know, have this sense of responsibility for helping their teammates.

[00:23:19] And this is what drives you forward and help me stay in the copy because there was no way I was letting down my wingman on those flights. I’m like that ego, the sense of responsibility for helping them. Like I’m not going to be quitting because they need me and that’s how you stay present. And then suddenly the claustrophobia slash anxiety.

[00:23:36] Zach White: Yes. Well, can you say that again? Courage is love in action. 

[00:23:42] Waldo Waldman: Yep. Yeah. So courage is love and action or service is love and action, but courage ultimately is service and action. It’s love in action. You’re jumping, you know? Right. And so, and it may be loving yourself, which is sometimes the hardest love there is.

[00:23:56] so, yeah. And so one other thing. Resilience. Isn’t just, and this is important now, as we deal with Kobe combat and struggles in life resilience, isn’t just about, Hey, you know, I’m having a hard day. I’m going to go take a nap, listen to some music, smell rose, take a nap, walk my dog and kind of get into nature.

[00:24:15] I think all those things are important, right. And really creating that environment. But if you really want to be a top performer, a fighter pilot, a top gun resilient leader. With courage. You’re going to expose yourself to those missions where you grinded through the crucible you’re F you’re burning your skin and your scar in yourself and your experience in that panic and a fear, uh, that only happens when you you’re out there upfront on that point yet.

[00:24:49] When, if you were in fitness and you’re running, right. You know, that, that pain and fear, and you know that you’re running and you’re sweating and having that anxiety, whatever, once again, that competence that you build, the resilience is like saying to yourself, Hey, I’ve been there before.

[00:25:07] Whereas resilience is, and courage is also also a by-product of saying, look, I based those fears before I stepped out of my comfort zone, I know what it’s like to be running 10 miles or doing those weights. And you want to pass out. It’s not as foreign to me. So the more you do these fear invoking things, the more likely you will.

[00:25:30] Still do the ones that may be new to you, but saying, Hey, I could do this because I’ve done it before. And that is true resilience. And that is true strength. So the more you expose yourself to these things, the more you’ll be able to feel comfortable doing them. And also the more, you’ll be an example. To others, to a, looking to you for guidance.

[00:25:52] Right. Because, right. so think about that. Exposing yourself to those fear inducing things, builds the resilience and your ability to face those fears, not just coping with change, right. By sipping a latte, having dark chocolate or hugging your dog. Right. Which are all great. Big step. So, okay. Back to that other question that you asked me, I apologize if you have to ask.

[00:26:15] It’s perfect. It’s really important stuff. So now eight years later, I think you said, how do I deal with it now? Like can you share? 

[00:26:22] Zach White: Yeah, so, well, first of all, I will ask it again, but I want to quickly connect the dot and to tell me if I’m getting this right, because the idea of resilience coming through, you know, being willing to face these things and being able to say, I have been there before I’ve done this before.

[00:26:38] I’ve overcome things before. That’s that source of true resilience. Earlier you mentioned, I don’t believe in failure. I either succeed or I’m growing, that idea, like forget this concept of failing. I’m either winning or I’m learning and growing. Right. So does it matter if you’re winning or if you’re still in a learning mode when it comes to building resilience, like, do you have to have victory to build resilience or is it enough to just say I faced it and I learned, and I faced it again and I’m still.

[00:27:08] I’m still learning. Does that process equally build resilience or I don’t know. Can you just link those two for me? 

[00:27:14] Waldo Waldman: I think, I think it does cause like once again, second place may not be. Feel good to you, right? If you’re competing, whatever, but Hey, I’m, I’m evolving, I’m growing, but this is where inherent confidence comes from.

[00:27:26] Yeah. You see competent people, especially in certain things. And I think, um, I I’ve lacked competence in certain areas, but I know I’m competent when it comes to leadership. When it comes to coaching, when it comes to keynote speaking, when it comes to, uh, uh, running an entrepreneurial business, I’m pretty competent.

[00:27:41] I’m not as competent in some other areas right So, and it’s normal. I’m not competent in areas that I haven’t been working on, that I haven’t been exposed into. Look, we talked about my, this room, like, you know, looking at my, my image here, you know, with my background, I got the jet here. I got this nice microphone.

[00:27:59] You know, both of us got good lighting. We got good sound. That confidence comes because we took the courage to take some risks and we seek more information and skills. And we worked at it. I so the work, the progression that tilling of the soil may not reap a whole bunch of corn, but if you get a good couple of stalks out of it, it’s better than nothing.

[00:28:24] And you can replant those and, and, and build up some more, some more courage and skills and confidence in the long run. So you don’t always have to, when. Uh, but that income and confidence, that’s a by-product of that, that our efforts, if it’s key, but then also you may not be working in the right area as well.

[00:28:42] This is why my concept of never flying solo and having a wing man, a trusted partner in your life is key. Because if I was coaching you, Zack, you would coach me knee. You may say, well, Walter, tell me about what you’re doing in your day to build resilience and growth. And I may say I’m doing this, this and this.

[00:28:56] And you may say.  you make, have you thought about this or maybe you need to do this differently or somebody else has failed. So the perspectives of others, mentors, coaches, peers, friends, partners, where they’re going to give you some ideas and advice. It could be through a podcast like you’re doing here.

[00:29:16] That is also the key to being humble and vulnerable enough to say, you know, I’m not getting where I need to be fast enough. I keep trying and I’m getting scarred, but I’m not progressing. Maybe it’s because you’re not doing the right things. You need to just have a vector, correct. Genetic and having somebody in your life who can help you.

[00:29:39] Zach White:

[00:29:39] Waldo Waldman: love that. That is the key. Right. And if you’re flying in your cockpit solo, Hey, everything’s going good. And somebody I love dearly does pretty well, but he very rarely seeks other insects. When you seek, you shall find in addition to giving help to others and giving help in them. Now you’ve got to say, Hey, I made 80.

[00:29:58] I need some help. How do I improve here? And that takes courage and vulnerability in and of itself. This is why you shouldn’t be flying solo. So 

[00:30:04] Zach White: never fly solo. I love them. All right. So, so take us back to the. You have this incident and a story for another episode, we’ll come back, develop claustrophobia, very inconvenient for a fighter pilot.

[00:30:17] So in a small space you have to overcome this. So So every single time you get in that F 16, you’re facing this part of your psychology. That’s like, get me out of the cockpit. And what I’m curious about is. did that ever go away completely? Is it like, Hey, once you face that demon and you’ve claimed victory it’s over, um, or like a year later, five years later, eight years later, what was that like?

[00:30:43] Waldo Waldman: Okay. This is going to be the most important part of this, podcast. Something that I rarely talk about, but I came up with it recently a few years ago. Uh, your fears never go away. They’re subjugated. To your courage, to your joy, to how you live. Let me give you an exact. Let’s say w w w w uh, you know, there’s no music playing right now, but tell me about your favorite? That the music and what type of music do you not like? Zack, give me music. Do you not 

[00:31:15] Zach White: like, oh man. So, so it’s so hard to pick, but my favorite type of music is, uh, Uh, you know, Christian worship music. Cause I love what it does for me and my spiritual life. And so, Charlie hall or a Matt Redmond or David Crowder band or something like that.

[00:31:28] I, I love that kind of music, but, um, as far as don’t like, you know, honestly, probably the. I don’t like the most is some of this, you know, really emo kind of stuff that doesn’t have a consistent rhythm. And I can’t, I can’t dance to it. Anything that I can’t dance to. I don’t like, because I like the beat.

[00:31:51] So that’s, that’s my bucket. Let’s call 

[00:31:52] Waldo Waldman: it. Let’s call it. Let’s call it. Let’s kill the bad music, thug rap for that matter, you know, really surely the meaning of rap, what I’ve missed some really good rap as well out there. Uh, and then Christian music is your, is a music of joy. A thug rap is a music of fear.

[00:32:07] So let’s say the thug raps going on. Boom. You hear it? It’s you have it in the room right now and it’s kind of low, but you hear it in your back. Right. And for others it’s country music or, uh, or whatever, right. Or so you hear that music going on and that’s, that’s the fear. That’s like the anx the anxiety going on.

[00:32:24] Now, when you pop on another set of speakers, your Christian music, or your Tchaikovsky, whatever, and you start raising it up, you kind of hear both of them initially, but if you raise the music high enough of that Christian rock, it’ll drowned out the thug rap. Yeah. Does it mean the thug rap or the rapper music that you don’t like?

[00:32:45] Isn’t there? Is it, is it still there? It’s still there, but it’s being drowned out by the music of joy of what you love and your job in life is to do the things to drown out that fear, the scar and negativity. Through your relationships through your focus on God or whatever it is, your faith through your health and fitness, do your meditation or whatever that is.

[00:33:12] And what happens many times is if you start hanging out with the wrong people, use it divine. So that slowly don’t take care of your health and fitness. The music sets alone. You have a bad experience in life, uh, you experienced some trauma music starts slowing, and then. That negative music doesn’t need to increase.

[00:33:31] It just becomes more audible to you. And that’s the challenge in life. My claustrophobia will never go away. I had a panic attack, a mini one just a few weeks ago in the airport. I was thinking of something. I didn’t get a lot of sleep. I’ve been helping someone. I love going through a very tough time and I’m like, I’m watching this happen, Zach, I’m watching my heart rate go up that anxiety.

[00:33:54] I want to jump out of my skin and I just started taking some deep breaths. And did what I did before to overcome my fears. And it had went away.

[00:34:03] When, your job in life is to just keep elevating that music and minimizing that and drowning out that few, it just doesn’t go away for that matter. And so when you live a healthy lifestyle and surround yourself with love and joy and peace and all those things, that’s the key. And so that’s my job right now.

[00:34:20] And that’s how w how and why I work out and why I help other people. And I do pro bono work, or why get joy out of things in life. Why. I love my one year old, great Dane puppy, Willy, because I could be in a bad mood and, you know, I grabbed grab him and kiss him. He’s fun. And why I love, watch my son play soccer and coaching him.

[00:34:38] And before he goes to bed on overcoming fear and then doing things with my wife that watches her, her, her lift up, her, her, her joy. Yeah. So that’s the key and that’s the struggle and joy of life and going through that journey. So don’t be, don’t be afraid that that fear is going to come back and don’t have the, have the, uh, unrealistic expectation that the fear will go away.

[00:35:02] You just gotta submit. To the music of, uh, that that brings joy and presence in your life. 

[00:35:10] Zach White: That’s a perfect place for us to just let that sit and marinade and a perfect metaphor. I mean, it’s so simple to appreciate that. Like, Hey, it’s not about. Trying to use my energy to make that other music stop, you know, that’s, uh, you’re going to burn a lot of calories and not get a lot of reward.

[00:35:27] And what I found while I does actually trying to do that actually just turns the volume up on it. Cause I’m focused on it all the time. It’s like all I keep here and, and I love this. Just take the actions, focus on the things that are going to crank the volume on what is good in your life. Courage, love, joy, passion that that veterans.

[00:35:46] That we talked about earlier. So 

[00:35:48] Waldo Waldman: I want to, by the way, I buy my, my goal and I’ve been speaking professionally for 19 years. I need to do a Ted talk on that. I want to call it something like confessions of a claustrophobic fighter pilot, and share that story and share that analogy to people. And this is why I’m doing more on courage and why I eventually want to start a courage podcast.

[00:36:07] Uh, Um, I like to, I coined the phrase, courage, Monga. There’s an a fearmonger is out there. I want to be the courage manga, give them folks to courage. 

[00:36:13] Zach White: Amazing. Amazing. Well, you’re going to get a thousand percent support from Zach white, if you do anything related to that, because courage is my jam, man. I just heard that.

[00:36:23] I love that. Awesome. Well, well let’s, let’s land the. So to speak and I always land in the same place. So this is not the Navy with a moving carrier. This is a nice stable runaway. It’s always in the same spot. Um, I have found, and I believe a hundred percent to be true that your great coaching, great engineering, it all begins with the questions that we ask, because questions lead the answers follow.

[00:36:49] And if we want to get different answers, We need to ask better questions. So for that engineering leader, who’s been listening to this conversation and they want to experience greater courage that leads to greater success in these areas that are aligned with, with their north star, with their vector.

[00:37:06] What would be the best question that you would lead them with today? 

[00:37:12] Waldo Waldman: So, It’s it’s a, it’s a powerful question, I think. And this is based on my wing man, philosophy of creating trust in partners in the world, a wing ma’am a wing persons. However you look at it when the proverbial poop hits the fan. When you’re strapping in that jet.

[00:37:28] And you know, the missiles are coming, you know, the enemies across the border and you’re going to have to face. Are you willing to ask others for help? And do you have a. Squadron of men and women in your life who, before you go, you can call them for help, for encouragement to lift you up. I have a saying leaders lift, you know, who’s going to coach you and give you that, that inspiration.

[00:37:54] Who’s gonna lift you up and say, you can do this. I believe in you. Who’s going to give you the idea on how to face your fear and the actions you need to take. When you, the more of those men and women you have in your life. And the more you use them. And leverage them the less likely you’ll be afraid to take that action because as human beings, as children of God, as members of our community, when we work together and we create that inspiration by seeking out others who can help us, then we’re able to step out of our comfort zones and, and truly create a life of meaning.

[00:38:28] And then finally, the next level is. Who needs you to be that way, man, who needs you to face that courage? Who can you create that example for and lift up through the pain and trial and tribulation that you went through to build that growth and resilience? Because as a father, this is what I do for my son, for people who are listening in a dungeon of.

[00:38:51] Think of those who are going to be impacted by that, the challenges that you overcome and that’ll, give that meaning to your mission and help to take the next level. I’m 

[00:39:01] Zach White: excited by that. I’m energized. Waldo. Thank you so much for your time today. And I know everybody listening is going to want to get more from you and just learn about your work and hear more of the stories and the learnings and lessons from what you’ve done.

[00:39:15] So where can people go to get plugged in with Waldo Waldman and. 

[00:39:20] Waldo Waldman: So number one now, Google Waldo, Waldman. Uh, my websites, you, your wing Your wing I’m all over Instagram. LinkedIn is my primary thing. That’s where we’ve connected Zach and, and great job following up on. I always see you gifting other people with comments and posts, and you’re you practice what you preach by the.

[00:39:39] Um, and so I’m thankful for our friendship and the fact that we, we marinated that over the last, uh, few years. Um, so Instagram, Waldo, Waldman, LinkedIn, Twitter, et cetera. And then I’m going to, on behalf of you and our friendship, I’m going to on the screen, there’s a, there’s a QR code and a, website, your wing forward slash and Fs, like never fly solo.

[00:39:59] That’s a free audio book. Download of my New York cons of wall street. Journal bestseller, never fly solo. It’s 20 bucks on auto. Published by McGraw hill. But my gift to the world is the fact that I own the rights to the audio book and I can give it away for free. So there it is right there. Um, and so share it with your peers, give it to your kids So that’s how folks get in touch with me and now get on my newsletter, et cetera, from that as well. 

[00:40:23] Zach White: Perfect welder, thanks for your generosity and that, and if anybody’s listening on apple or Spotify, not catching the video, uh, jump on our website, Oasis of and grab it, or we’ll make sure you get access to that link.

[00:40:34] And I cannot say enough about how powerful Waldo is as a, as a speaker and a leader. To change the mindset and the culture of your organization. So if, if you want to bring Waldo into your company, I mean, it is a game changing experience for certain. So please reach out to Waldo directly in his team. If that interests you and read the book, listen to the book, you know, look at his YouTube videos.

[00:40:57] I mean, this, this guy is just so much fun. So Waldo, thanks again. Tremendous to have you on the show and hope we can do it again sometime Stanford, 

[00:41:05] Waldo Waldman: and to fly with you and get to know you as a person, Zach. Thanks for the gift that you give others.