Former Black Hawk Pilot Teaches Confidence Skills

By Tricia Sims | DFW Newsflash | June 2018

Former U.S. Army Black Hawk pilot Elizabeth McCormick served as the keynote speaker during the quarterly Women in Business lunch hosted by the Coppell Chamber of Commerce at Hackberry Creek Country Club. During her speech, she shared the secrets to her success while overcoming overwhelming obstacles as a helicopter pilot.

“There is no autopilot in life,” McCormick said. “The fact is you are in the pilot seat when it comes to your life and your business and your career. Your future is yours.”

“I went up to a flight doctor to take my flight physical and he looked at me and said, ‘Little girl don’t you know flight school is really hard? What makes you think you can do this? You are wasting my time.’ Then looking confident having done my research and read the regulations I said, ‘Sir, I have an appointment, let’s just take the physical.’ And we did. Every step of the way someone else did not believe in me, but I did.

“We are meant to believe. We are built for it. Our brain is so strong that what we say to ourselves, it makes our body do. There is actually science behind that.”

McCormick took a volunteer from the audience and showed the science of the words you say. She had the volunteer raise her arm and practice resistance. McCormick pushed down on the raised arm as the volunteer resisted. The first time the volunteer was instructed to say ‘I can’t’ and then the second time say ‘I can.’ According to the volunteer she felt a difference in her ability to resist. After the volunteer completed the task, McCormick had the whole audience partner up and try.

“What we believe our brain wants to make come true,” McCormick said. “This can translate to your business. Now that you are aware of the negative language and the power it has, you can turn shift the language to positive.”

This exercise was an example of the three strategies McCormick spoke about on becoming more confident. The arm resistance was an example of the strategy to shift your awareness and hear the negative language around you.

The second strategy is to delete the negative thinking you have on a loop like the phrase ‘Money doesn’t grow on trees.’

“The fact is we have a lot of information hard wired in our brain that doesn’t serve us and that is not true,” McCormick said.

The third strategy she mentioned was to use affirmations to make an invisible suit of armor.

“Everything we do today impacts our tomorrow because practice makes permanent, so be more intentional, be more deliberate, and be more focused,” McCormick said.

McCormick went over all the steps in order to fly and explained a pilot must keep track of many items at the same time and related it to having a business.

“The fact is as business owners we are multitasking all the time,” McCormick said. “The emails are dinging, the phone is ringing, and we have to do multiple things to get it all done. There is no autopilot. Flying a helicopter is all about multitasking.

“When things get hard, show up, and bring what you have for that moment.”

The key message McCormick wanted the audience take away came down to one simple phrase.

“The substitute instructor said these four words that I will never forget, ‘Do you want this?’ Those four words are what to say to yourself when things get hard and keep you connected and committed to your passion,” McCormick said. “Anytime you feel stuck or things are not going your way or you need a boost ask yourself ‘Do I want this?’ Those four words will help you stay connected to why it is you do what you do.”

The Women in Business program began in 2016 as a monthly meeting for the Coppell Chamber of Commerce to explore different women’s businesses as a networking opportunities. The networking grew so much that in 2017 they changed to a quarterly luncheon.

“This Women in Business program has evolved over the last couple of years,” Mike Albanese director of marketing and communication for the chamber, said. “The Women in Business program is a vehicle for women in business in Coppell, Irving, and surrounding areas to have their own unique networking event.

“Our theme for the year was empowerment, and all of our speakers have reflected that. They have spoken to these women saying ‘Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something.’ All of our speakers have said ‘You can do whatever you set your mind to,’ that is really the theme of this program.”

McCormick fit the theme with her message of building confidence.

“We were so excited to have her, she was an awesome speaker,” Gayle Westapher, president of Coppell Chamber of Commerce, said. “As a military brat myself, I liked her last story about how she made the decision to not shut the engine down the best. Knowing my father was a pilot along with my first husband made a lot of difference to me.”

Westapher said the program is still continuing to grow and they have up to 80 people attend the lunches.

“The purpose is to allow women to connect and talk about issues that are important to women,” Westapher said.

The final Women in Business luncheon of 2018 will be Oct. 4 with a women’s health panel.

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