Episode 41: Discovering and Fulfilling Your Soul Mission with Air Force Veteran Tammy Barlette

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In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • Why Tammy believes it’s a disservice (and not humility) if you choose NOT to create an impact through sharing your story and battle tested lessons.
  • Recognizing the signs from the Universe that can reveal your purpose.
  • Why Tammy believes when you find your purpose in serving others, your resilience increases.
  • Her journey into motivational speaking — from hiding to stepping into the spotlight.
  • Tammy’s metaphor for finding your purpose and fulfilling your mission here on Earth.

About Tammy Barlette

Tammy Barlette is co-founder of Athena’s Voice, a speaking business featuring 13 female fighter pilots from around the United States.  She herself is a fighter pilot who served in the Air Force for over 20 years, retiring in September of 2018 as a Lieutenant Colonel.  She has flown multiple aircraft, to include the T-37 Tweet, T-38 Talon, A-10 Warthog, MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper, accumulating more than 3000 total flying hours and over 1500 hours of combat support time assisting and protecting troops on the ground in both Iraq and Afghanistan. She is also a graduate of the prestigious US Air Force Weapons School and has a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry. Lt Col Barlette is married to a Federal Agent and has three children.

If you’re inspired by this episode, I’d love to hear your biggest Aha! moments. Take a screenshot of you listening on your device and post it to your social media and tag me, @christieturley!

LINKS:

Tammy’s Website, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn & Twitter 

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Business Growth, Realignment & Reinvention for Conscious Entrepreneurs

Business Mentor & Spiritual Medium

Business Mentor Christie Turley sparks reinvention in authors, speakers and coaches, so they can align their businesses to their future selves, breakthrough their money ceilings and manifest abundance in all eight areas of life. Her superpower is uncovering hidden leverage points that lead to exponential profits and impact— like one client who grew from zero to $15 million in under a year.

She launched her career in marketing and communication while juggling college classes. By age 24, she had grown two businesses by more than $30 Million total, worked with many Fortune 500 brands, and started her own branding & marketing agency. Since then, she’s started nine businesses and has loved working with transformational authors, speakers and coaches during the past 20 years.

To help entrepreneurs awaken their prosperity, she mentors business owners and shares her Intuitive Gifts and her knowledge as a Money Strategist, Certified Hypnotherapist, NLP Master Practitioner and Certified Strategic Life Coach. She is author of the book, The Intuition-Led Business, a podcast host, and has shared the stage with many New York Times bestselling authors. She lives in the USA with her husband and their two beautiful children.

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Transcript:

Christie:
Welcome to the Mind Muse Podcast. I’m your host, Christie Turley, and today Tammy Barlette joins me as we talk about discovering and fulfilling your soul mission. We’ll hear about recognizing the signs from the Universe that can reveal your purpose; We’ll hear why Tammy believes that when you find your purpose in serving others, your resilience increases;

Christie:
We’ll also hear her journey into motivational speaking when she went from wanting to hide to stepping into the spotlight. Tammy Barlette is co-founder of Athena’s voice, a speaking business, featuring 13 and counting female fighter pilots from around the United States. She herself is a fighter pilot who served in the US Air Force for over 20 years, retiring in September of 2018 as a Lieutenant Colonel. Please join me in welcoming Tammy. Welcome to the show Tammy!

Tammy:
Thank you! Thank you.

Christie:
So let’s hear a little bit about your story. You have a fascinating background. So I’ll let you go from here and paint a picture of, you know, how you got into the business you’re in now and a little bit about your military service and thank you so much for that!

Tammy:
Oh, absolutely! It was, it was an honor to serve the country. So yeah, as far as my story goes, in order to get to how I got into speaking, which is the business I’m in now, obviously my story in the military is a lot of that is the, you know, the background, the foundation for that. So I grew up in Minnesota and I knew I was gonna go to college, so that was always the plan. And I had been interested in the military, but I didn’t really know anyone in the military. I didn’t know anything about the military except what I saw in movies. And so I finally ran into a guy who was in the Navy and I said, “Oh I want to go in the military, I was thinking Navy.” And he said, “Oh, you should go on the Air Force. Its, you know, they treat their people the best. They’re a little bit more advanced,” at this point they’re, you know, it’s 1995, ’94, He’s like that, “you know, the best for women at this point.”

Tammy:
And I was like, “Okay, well that’s interesting!” And so I went to the University of Minnesota and I asked questions and inquired in their ROTC program for the Air Force ROTC. And I decided to join it, because you know the scholarships and they said I could try it. And if I didn’t like it, I could quit. And being just out of high school, I really liked the idea of being able to choose my own path. And so I gave it a shot and I honestly never looked back. It was the first program I’d ever been in my life where people just want to be better. They wanted to better themselves, they wanted to help everybody else, they were there to serve, they were trying to get good grades and it was so great to be surrounded by people that were kind of like me.

Tammy:
And so I never, I never thought about quitting. It was always the path. And I was just going to be just an officer for the four years that they require. When I went to field training- now field training is kind of like the ROTC version of boot camp. I spent four weeks at Lachlan Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. And while I was there, they had a career fair and or a career day, and there was like 300 cadets and only one pilot was up in front of us. And he just happened to look at me and he said, “Are you gonna be a pilot?” And I said, “Oh, I, I can’t. I had knee surgery.” And he said, “You know, there’s a pretty much a waiver for everything.”

Tammy:
And that’s truly where this all began. Because I’ve always been an adventurer, you know, swinging from trees and love roller coasters, but I’d never thought about flying. I didn’t know any pilots. I always thought I could be whatever I wanted to be, but I hadn’t thought about that because I’d never seen a pilot. And so here I am, you know, thinking, “Okay, I could do this pilot thing. Let me go back to my detachment at the University of Minnesota and ask.” And come to find out I didn’t even need a waiver for my knee. It was so common of a surgery that they, that they said, “No problem!” And I applied for the program and I got selected to be, you know, to go pilot training once I got commissioned as a Lieutenant. So I spent 20 years in the military flying multiple airplanes.

Tammy:
I was instructor in the T-37 through the A10. I flew the MQ-1, MQ-9, which are the unmanned planes. And then I ended my career as an instructor in the T-38, which is the fighter trainer. And I retired after 20 years of service, it was 2018. Then I went into thinking that how that all happened definitely wasn’t the plan yet again. You know, like the military, wasn’t the plan when I left school, it was just a cool idea. And when I was coming up on leaving the military, I wasn’t planning on going and speaking. I have three kids and I was excited to finally be able to be around for them more. And my husband is a federal agent and his career was pretty busy.

Tammy:
So it was gonna give us some relief on trying to manage two careers and not just down to one. And so here we are a couple of years from retiring and thinking about the future. My husband says, “I know what you’re gonna do when you retire.” And I thought, “Yeah! You know, stay home with the kids and you know, do clean the house. I don’t know.” And I looked at him and said, “Okay, what am I gonna do?” And he said, “Motivational speaking.” And I kinda got this, like I was taken aback. I was like, “What?” Because all I could think about was that feeling before you get up on stage, and it’s just that tension and that makes you think that it’s not your path, you know?

Tammy:
But I know better. Whenever something’s kind of hard, that’s probably the path you’re supposed to go down. So I didn’t quite think about it at that moment because I said to him, “Hey, have you ever even heard me speak?” And he said, “Well, no,” but I think he had heard- overheard me tell so many stories to so many people and this is my situation. It’s just been such a unique career that people are intrigued by it and they want to know how I did it and what it was like. And so I kind of thought about it over the next few years. And every time I was asked to speak, cause as a pilot you’re asked to speak quite frequently. In fact, it’s part of our job. But there were other occasions where I would speak in front of large audiences and it was always nerve wracking at first, just because, you know, we’re human, you know?

Tammy:
You’re always wondering what people are gonna think, what are they gonna say- It’s just normal. But you know, after a few minutes that would all go away. And I would just share from my heart. And I felt like it was a way I could give back, that I couldn’t any other way, you know? And when I got done, people would come up to me and say, “Thank you for telling us like it is and being so real.” And I thought, “Well, what other ways is there to be?” You know, you’ve got to be authentic and connect. And so I thought about it a little bit more. And at first I thought, “you know, I don’t want to be on stage. I don’t like being in the spotlight,” but I realized as I looked at the military and I, I was ending my career in the same place I started it at a pilot training base.

Tammy:
And things looked pretty much the same. And I thought, you know what, a lot of this, I think is because, a lot of times when women particularly retire, you know, quit their jobs or they kinda go on and humbly do whatever it is they’re going to do. And I think getting up and talking about it, seems like you’re not being humble. But I also felt like it was kind of a disservice to those behind me to not share my story. Because if people don’t hear the story, they don’t see it as an option or they don’t hear how you got through it and learn from that. And so many women have just gone into the woodwork and hidden. I mean, for example, the wasps, they flew in World War II, all the planes in our inventory, but yet almost nobody knows about them, because they just quietly went on with their life.

Tammy:
So that’s how I really got into speaking and thought, “I’m gonna do this. I want to make an impact. I want to make a difference. I want to share my story more, particularly share the stories of other women, because I started a speech business that features 12 female fighter pilots. Eventually we want to go to women veterans, but at the start with female fighter pilots because that’s kind of who we- who I knew. So

Christie:
That’s awesome. You know, I noticed a little pattern in the story that you were telling me about people in your life, almost like a sign from the Universe, you know, what, what do you think about the Airforce? You know, and then there was the someone who said, what about being a pilot? And then there was your husband. What about a motivational speaker? And it makes one wonder how many times have we brushed off? You know, one of these questions. I’ll tell you a quick, quick story that goes along with this, because I feel like, let’s drive this point home because there’s probably people listening that are wondering, “What’s my purpose?”

Christie:
“What’s my mission?” What they’re missing. They’re missing the signs that are- they’re being shown to them. Right? So quick story, and this isn’t like, it isn’t exactly like yours, but it’s just another illustration of it. Okay? So I was talking to a client not too long ago. And he was talking about how he wanted to write a book. And I said, “Great idea. Here’s some ways that we could really make it a must-read,” you know? And he’s like, “Do you have a book?” And I said, “No!” And he’s like, “Why not?” I was like, “I don’t know if it was always on my to-do list.”

Christie:
Like I always thought one day I’ll be a writer. Just like, you know, when I graduated college, I thought one day I’ll be a motivational speaker, right? And one day is not, you know, a day of the week, right? It’s like, you know, you got to listen to that. So then the next week it gets better. The next week I’m talking with another client who, it’s like practically the same question, you know, “When are you gonna write your book?” “Um, okay.” So then the next week, I kid you not, I get this voicemail, it’s the wrong number, but it’s a message saying, “It is urgent we hear back from you. Your book has been chosen to be featured in our upcoming-“

Christie:
whatever it was, fair book review or some kind of platform. Right? And I was like, “Holy shh..” like, you know? Like “”What the?” And I’m like, “Okay! Okay.” So, you know, I, I reflected on what that book was gonna be about and, you know, sent up a prayer, ask for some inspiration. And, you know, I wrote a book! I ended up writing a book in 30 days! So it’ll be out soon, but you know, it’s like, you’ll keep getting that message in one way or another until you listen. And hopefully it’s not the proverbial two by four, that, you know, hits you upside the head in a less than pleasant way.

Christie:
Right? So yeah, if you’re listening to this right now and you’re wondering, you know, do some inventory. You’ve probably, you probably already know.

Tammy:
Yeah, absolutely! I mean, there are so many times in my life that it’s been the thought or input from someone else. And I’ve always been one that I very much, I have a lot of respect for people older than me. People more experienced than me. And that’s not to say that someone younger couldn’t give me some inspiration and send me down a path and be that clue. It absolutely could. But I feel like a lot of times I just want to look to someone who’s been there before. And I learn as I got older and I look at the younger people, like when I was instructor pilot and I saw, I would see the students. You could see so much potential in them that they didn’t see in themselves. And I didn’t, I then learned that when people said that to me like, “Oh, you have so much potential!”

Tammy:
I was always brushing them off. Like when I was younger in high school. And I thought everybody’s the same as me. Well, everyone’s not the same as you. And if someone says you have potential, unless they’re just some random off the street, you’re just crazy, you should probably listen to them.

Christie:
Yeah!

Tammy:
They’re seeing something you’re not seeing. It’s like, it’s like trying to read a book when it’s read against your nose, you can’t read the words. You pull it away and look at it from someone else’s perspective and you can see it clearly. So I’ve always tried to take in what other people say and go, “Hmm.” Yeah, ’cause sometimes we don’t see ourselves properly. We know that by the way we look in the mirror and say, “Oh, I looked this today,” and people are like, “What? I didn’t even notice that!”

Christie:
Yeah. And you know, what I’ve also found too is that, you know, in Psychology, there’s this thing called a projection. And usually we think of it as, “Oh, okay. If you judge someone, you know, or you see something in someone else, you know, you probably have it in yourself.” And that goes in a negative way and it goes in a positive way. So if there are qualities that you can discern and pick out in someone else that you admire that is truly one of your strengths or talents that you either are ignoring or have yet to develop, but it’s inside of you.

Tammy:
Yeah, absolutely.

Christie:
Okay. So talk to me a little bit more about, you know, this, this feeling of wanting to hide, you know, this fear of being seen. Did you, did you suffer from this at all when you decided to really look into motivational speaking?

Tammy:
Well, yeah! I mean, I think that a lot of people, you know, when you say, “Hey, I’m gonna, I’m gonna go into speaking after I retire,” that when we put ourselves in their shoes where we think we put ours, you know, we think we know what they’re thinking. Things like, “Oh, who do you think you are?” You know, and that- I don’t like that. You know? And, but a lot of times that’s just the story we create in our own mind. But truly, that 1% is always the loudest, you know, that assumed 1%, right, of people who are saying negative things about you or you just want attention or whatever it might be. And I- there have been times in my life where I’ve been thrust into the spotlight, not wanting it, but just circumstantially.

Tammy:
And then, you know, there’s a backlash when people around you, “Well you’re always getting this and you’re-” I’m like, “Oh! But I worked really hard and I didn’t really want to be in the spotlight, which is kind of happened with my path. And so I think that was a continuation. You know, I just wanted to do my job. Like I’ve always just wanted to do my job, not stand out, which is obviously really hard as a female fighter pilot. I stood out naturally. So I, my tendency was to pull back and just kind of blend in as best I could. And I would say that going up on stage is not necessarily blending in.

Christie:
No, it’s not.

Tammy:
But I felt like it was important.

Christie:
Yeah! And one thing you said earlier about, you know, the disservice, such as a service to others before you to hide, or like the story about the wasps, you know, it’s like, did I say that right? You know, how they just kind of faded into the night without their story really being heard. And so when you can look at it as a selfless act instead of a selfish act to share and do it to be in service to others, I think that’s the sign of a mature, reluctant, maybe, motivational speaker.

Christie:
Right?

Tammy:
Well, I am absolutely not doing it for myself. I really feel like it was a way I could give, because I was wondering, “When I retire, what am I gonna do? I’m not gonna teach flying anymore. I can’t, you know, what can I do with all of this experience that I have, these things that such unique circumstances I was in.” And I just thought I can share, because for example, when I- I remember specifically being in one of my fighter squadrons and I was early, I wasn’t the earliest female by any means, but I was still at the front edge of women flying fighters. You know, I was one of two women on my squadron, which two was a lot, because a lot of them didn’t even have any. And I would think, “Okay, I just want to do my job. I just want to blend in. I just want to show them I could do it.”

Tammy:
So I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t say anything about anything. For example, I had a, an exposure suit that we would fly with. It was like a big, you know, it had steel around my neck and my, you know, like, well, I guess when you scuba dive or whatever, I don’t know about it. But the water that we overflew on the ocean by Korea was a certain temperature. We had to fly in it. Well, I remember coming down from the equipment room, I had this gear on underneath my harness and everything else, and the guys looked at me and they were like, “Whoa, Tammy, you know, you needed to burp that.” And which means like pulling the neck away, squatting down and getting all the air out. And I said, “I know, but it doesn’t stay. It wouldn’t seal.” So it didn’t really fit me right. But I didn’t want to say anything because I didn’t want to cause a ruckus, you know, like, “Oh, some woman shouldn’t do this.

Tammy:
We don’t have the equipment for that,” you know, on and on and on. Now in the beginning, I’m not saying that was right, but that was the path we chose. But the problem is if we continue to do that, we’re not changing it for anyone behind us. So there came a point where we needed to start speaking up and the same thing applies, you know, to, you know, “How did I get through this?” You know, “If I can stand up on the stage and tell people how I got through it, I can help them avoid some of the problems that I had.” And that just gets- makes everyone better.

Christie:
Yeah. I love that! Now in your work, you talk a lot about resilience and I imagine you know quite a bit about that being a fighter pilot, and even like, you know, the resilience it takes to be a speaker as well. Let’s dive in to that topic if you want to. You have- some thoughts on resilience and, and yeah. What we can do to become more, more so?

Tammy:
Well, I- yeah, I think that every path you choose, I mean, you got to start with- you got to start with your why. Why are you doing it? Okay. So if you determine that this is something you truly do want, the end goal is something you know why you want it and you’re gonna go after it. That’s when you need to buckle down and expect a bumpy road and be ready for it. And one of the things, one of my mottos is just, I like to say, “When quitting is not an option, you’ll find another way. So don’t let it be an option.” Now, the reason I say that is because a lot of times people ask me, “How did you get through it? How did you do all the things that you did?” And it- for many years, I was like, “I don’t know. I just did. You just go!”

Tammy:
And I just, I did a little bit more thinking about it and I thought, “You know what, a lot of it was because I didn’t feel like I could quit or I wouldn’t let myself quit.” ‘Cause I know that those few moments that I thought I’m gonna quit, my mind would start to spiral in really negative places. And as we know, mindset is huge when your trying to achieve a goal, especially one that you see, you feel like is out of your reach. You have to have a positive mindset and a lot of determination. And so I just would say, “I can’t quit. There’s no quitting.” And when I closed that door, it kind of took away a lot of the potential negativity that could drain me and my energy. And so I just kept going and I wouldn’t let myself quit.

Tammy:
And you know, I didn’t stew in the things that happened to me. I mean, we can look back and probably find the tons of stories that were terrible and we could make press releases. I mean like stories out of them that would be, people would just eat up, but that’s not what it’s about. You know, everybody has bad things happen to them. And all you can do is try and make it better for the person behind you, learn from it and move on! Like dwelling in it didn’t do anything. So I just kept on going and going and going, and come out of everything with a lesson and “How can I go positive with this and bring it to the next level?”

Christie:
Now is there ever a positive reason to quit?

Tammy:
Well, I mean, I would say there’s always gonna be a reason to quit. I mean, if you’re- and your “Why” can always change, right? You get into something and you realize, “This is not what I thought it was.” Now I think that it’s important to assess the end result of that. Assessing the end result, “Is the end result not what you thought it was going to be?” Then yes, maybe you need to reassess and pull out of that, whatever that is. Like, but I like to think about when my kids are going after a goal, you know, a lot of times they have to do things they don’t like to get to the end results. So, and you know how the advice we give our kids, is a lot of times really good advice for ourselves. So yeah, “Honey, I know it’s getting hard and you don’t like this, but this is what you’re going after, right?

Tammy:
You want to do this.” And we have to do the same thing. But if that end result ends up being, like I said, a few minutes ago, like if that’s not, “Ooh, that’s not quite what I thought this was,” then absolutely. You know, you don’t want to stick with something just for the sake of sticking with it. It’s for achieving that end result, that goal.

Christie:
Yeah. Yeah. That’s well, well said. So talk to us a little bit about situational stress. You know, you’ve had to deal with this quite a bit. What does that mean? And you know, how do we find our way out of that? You know, are there “What Ifs” that we consider. You know, how do we handle this?

Tammy:
Situational stress. Well, we’ve been doing a video series with Athena’s voice over where we’re kind of, we’re throwing out, you know, how to manage in this time and we can use, we use some of our pilot skills and things we’ve learned, aviation, applying it to life. And that, it really is very applicable. I mean, there’s lots of things when you’re dealing with situational stress you can do. I mean, one thing you can do is, is you can treat it like an emergency, right? So in an emergency and you maintain aircraft control, analyze the situation, take the proper actions and land as soon as conditions permit. So you know, you can break it down to Aviate, Navigate, Communicate. So when we have problem and we’re in an airplane, we go, “Okay, I gotta fly. I have to fly.” Just whatever it is to stay alive, which I know sounds really basic.

Tammy:
But when you have an emergency that’s sucking away half your brain, because your oil system’s not working and you have no- all oil spilling out of your engine, you- it’s consuming, right? So you got to go back to the basics. I got to fly first, so you know? Like in your life, you get what is basic first and then figure out what’s going on and press forward in the best way, you know, possible. The other thing you can do is break it down in steps. I think that a lot look at a problem when we have stress, we’re looking like at the top of the mountain and, you know, you just have to look up to, you know, let’s just, let’s take a few steps up to that tree. And then up to that rock over there, and just put your head down and go a little bit, and then all of a sudden you’re somewhere else.

Tammy:
And I think that you just got to break it down and take smaller pieces because a lot of times you get overwhelmed, right? We get overwhelmed, which causes a lot of our stress, I think. But-

Christie:
It reminds me of when you’re learning how to drive and you’re trying to stay in the lane. And the tendency is to look exactly right in front of you, which just causes you to swerve as opposed to looking, you know, 20, you know, 20 feet ahead of you to stay in the lane. Like, you know, it might be a little different when flying, you know, but it’s comparable, right?

Tammy:
Oh, there’s a really good, actually enough, a philosophy as well. So when we’re coming in standing, the tendency- and again in students is to look at the ground in front of you. But the problem is, when you’re flying, you have a dimension, right? So you’re coming down and you need this, and unless you have, you know, some sort of altimeter in your butt, you know? You don’t know exactly, you know, if you’re five feet off or ten, you’re not because, you’re not looking at your- your altimeter is not, you’re not going to read it like that, it just doesn’t work. It’s too much information to take in. So what you do is you throw your eyes out on the horizon and you start using a peripheral vision to see the ground, you know, rising to where you need to be and where you kind of flare the plane and land.

Tammy:
So yeah, you absolutely need to look down the horizon and you can not look right in front of you. You’re actually going to probably bang into the ground pretty hard when you do that.

Christie:
Yeah, you over correct, you can make, you know, poor decisions. Its like, you know, we had this world event, you know. No one wants to hear the buzz word again because it’s like painful to your ears. But like we had this world event, right? In 2020. And you know, I think a lot of people course corrected or even over course corrected because they’re looking, you know, two days in front of them or a week in front of them. And there’s, there’s so much fear too, and stress being poured on, you know? And so there’s probably some valuable lessons we can take from that. And I loved, I love this.

Christie:
You said it really quickly though. So I want you to break it down for people. The navigate,

Tammy:
No, aviate,

Christie:
navigate and communicate.

Tammy:
Yes.

Christie:
What are the steps again? Cause this was good.

Tammy:
So that was, that’s like when you have, when you have a problem, you just fly your plane first. You won’t want to do that, you know, you gotta be safe. So if you want to go back to the, like the steps in that piece, it’s maintain aircraft control, analyze the situation, take the proper actions and land as soon as conditions permit. Sort of all the aviate, you know, and navigate- where are you gonna go? So once you’ve figure out you’re safe, you’re not gonna hit the ground, you’re not gonna hit another plane, okay. We’re flying on a safe airspeed, we’re not gonna fall off the sky, okay. Where am I going? And go there first, and the last we’re gonna do is talk- is talk to someone else.

Christie:
Right? Social distancing, maybe? Anyway. So how important is the purpose piece? I mean, that’s kind of like the horizon, right? And we talked a little bit about quitting, you know, if it’s not aligned to your purpose anymore or you’ve maybe learned something new about your purpose, then, yeah! Maybe it’s okay to change your flight plan a little bit. Right?

Tammy:
Yeah.

Christie:
Yeah! So I mean, how do you think, or you know, how do people that you work with, how do you advise them to find their purpose and their meaning in life?

Tammy:
Ooh, that’s a deep question. I’m gonna be honest with you. Alright. Let’s find your purpose. Well, you know, I mean, I’m not talking about where you’re passionate, you know, and that can get overused a little bit. You know, following your passion and there is definitely some truth in that, but you know, combination of your skills and then, in my life, I’m spiritual. I listen to God, what is He saying. You talked in the beginning, goes right back to the beginning about listening to those clues around you, you know, of just things that: Where you should go? What should be? Where do you make a positive impact? When you do something in your life, whether it’s work, or you know, some other, you know, group that you’re in and you notice positive things happening, you- that’s, you need to go that way.

Tammy:
When you’re helping people and you’re changing lives, that’s what you need to follow. I think we’re all put on this Earth to, you know, grow ourselves and help others grow. And if you can do that in whatever it is you’re pursuing, then that’s probably the right way to go. If you’re just doing it for your own selfish, like, I wanna be a fighter pilot, but that’s the only- you only want it because it’s cool, then, it’s not gonna work out well for you, you know? It’s just not going to end up in the right place for you. You mean like being a fighter pilot, I’m there to help people, you know, whether it was when I was instructing, training students through and learn the airplane and graduate, or whether I’m sending troops on the ground into trouble and they need my help.

Tammy:
I love people. And when you find whatever it is in life that you can help people, that is probably exactly where you need to go. It’s not gonna be easy though, you know?

Christie:
Yeah. I think, you know, purpose is just- such a more powerful way to pull us forward and to be more resilient. Because if you started your business to make money, you know, how big of a purpose is that, you know? That’s not a really huge “Why” because then once you achieve the money and the status, maybe that, and the lifestyle that you wanted, then what?

Tammy:
Yeah.

Christie:
What was it all for? You know? It’s okay, great! Now what?

Tammy:
Yeah.

Christie:
And so it leads you to discover what your true purpose is. And I totally agree with you, you know? If you’re not serving others in some capacity and wanting to make that impact, it’s gonna be difficult to be resilient and to keep going.

Tammy:
Yeah. I think a lot of my motivation has to do with other people. And people don’t like that, you know? Shouldn’t be based on other people. But it’s about affecting other people in a positive way, you know? And it’s not, it’s not for myself. I mean, yeah there’s benefits I get out of it obviously. But, those aren’t reason enough for me to do something. It has to help other people. Like people say do you have a hobby? Well, I know I don’t have a hobby or feel passionate. My passion is helping people. It’s- and I know there’s a lot of people in the world like this, that if you see a place where you can help, you just want to. Even if I don’t have time or I don’t know much about it, I’m going to try to help you if I can. It’s just the way that I am. And there’s a lot of people out there. And I think that a lot of times we shy away from it. Cause we’re like, “Oh, well I don’t want to get in their business”

Tammy:
or “I don’t wanna-” you know, but we’re here to help other people. I truly believe that. And that’s one of the reasons I get up on stage and it was one of the reasons that all those ladies that are on our speaking team out there in the world. They have powerful stories of, you know, what we’re talking about, resilience and leadership and just things they’ve experienced that are sharable and translatable to businesses and organizations.

Christie:
Tell us another story about resilience maybe from the battlefield when you felt like giving up.

Tammy:
Oh, well, you know what, let’s see. I would say that one of the best stories of resilience I have actually has to do with when I was flying RPAs, which are the remotely piloted aircraft or drones, most people would call them. So I’m sitting in a trailer in Tucson, flying a plane that is in Afghanistan or Iraq and we’re 24/7 365. So we’re flying combat but yet I go home at night and I, you know, I’m with my husband or, you know, at home going to McDonald’s on the way home or whatever. Kind of strange situation. Right? Well, when I got married, I- we wanted to have kids right away.

Tammy:
So I decided that, you know, “Okay, let’s go for this.” And it happened very quickly. And I was so excited and I wanted to go to the doctor. So I went to the doctor and I said, “You know, I think I’m pregnant” and he’s, “Okay, let’s do a test.” He’s like, “Sure enough, you’re pregnant.” I’m like, Yes! This is awesome. So exciting!” And he says, “Okay, you’re grounded.” And I’m like, “What? I’m grounded from what? I’m three feet off the ground in a trailer, you’re gonna ground me?” And he said, “Well, the regulations haven’t caught up. So we have to apply the regulations to the heavy aircraft.” So when I was flying fighter jets, you’re grounded because of the ejection seat. Well, so they applied like big plane rules where I couldn’t fly the first trimester.

Tammy:
I could fly the second trimester, but then not the third. And I was like, “This is insane!” So the terrible thing about it was when I got back to the squadron and I said I’m grounded, they’re like, “Oh, you’re pregnant?” So now here I’m five weeks- people- and I’m like, “Gosh, I hope nothing happens because the whole world knows ’round. Right?” And I worked that whole time with the flight docs to change the regulations so that we could fly while we’re pregnant. They- so what happened was, we got the regulation changed so that if you were a female pregnant flying a man plane, once you proved that it was one pregnancy and everything was safe and normal, that you could fly until 36 weeks. So the whole time, now we got that changed and I did fly.

Tammy:
I mean, I was big and pregnant flying and it was funny because people we’re, you know, I would- we were 24/7 365! Here I am seven months pregnant, working the overnight shifts, sleeping on a cot, you know? You’re just showing people that you can do this. You know you can push through really tough things. And so it was just, it was an interesting time. And, you know, I think that it just proves that we’re so much stronger than we believe, and we can push through. And you know, when I was, let’s see, five months pregnant with my second child, I was asked to attend a training that would occur. It would be six months of training, really advanced training.

Tammy:
That would happen when my children were 18 months and three months old. And you know, in the beginning, remember in the beginning, we talked about people telling me things and me kind of listening? Well, when I first got offered this opportunity, so I’m pregnant. And I go home and I tell my husband, like they offered me this opportunity. And he’s, he said, “Well, you have to go. You can not turn down this awesome chance.” And because it was- they wanted me to go US Air Force Weapons School. And I was like, “What? How are we gonna do this? We’re gonna have an 18 month old and a three month old.” And he said, “We’ll figure it out. We’ll figure it out.” So, because he, you know, he was like, “You can do this.” Again, you have that person telling me.

Tammy:
And I did. I- for six months and people might criticize me and I have been really scrutinized for this, and from some people. You know, I left my children for six months when they were 18 months old and three months old with my husband. Now reverse the roles, and people wouldn’t probably say much about it. But it was a really hard decision. It was amazing experience and some phenomenal training. And it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life, is going through that with those little children, only getting to see them occasional.

Christie:
When it comes to purpose, there’s this really strong metaphor in aviation and military, really, when you’re pursuing a mission, you know? Your commanding officer says, “Here’s your mission,” you know? And I’m sure having that mission really helps you pull through those really tough times. I mean, talk to us a little bit about this. How can we apply some of the things that you learned in the military to our own lives?

Tammy:
Absolutely! Having the mission is the starting point. We always say, “Work the target backwards,” right? So what is your objective? And then how do you get there? What are the steps along the way? So, as pilots, when we’re given the mission, we break it down and then when we brief our flight on what we’re gonna do, we always start with the mission. What is the mission objective? What is the overall mission of why we are going out there. So, you know, again, start with “Why.” We’ve heard a lot about that, right? We talked about it already, but you know, the thing is that you can break it down too, into like more tactical objectives. So you have this big mission and then give yourselves a couple objectives to reach that overall mission, things that you’re going to do to get where you need to be.

Tammy:
So I guess your focus points- it gives you something to think about. So you’re not just kind of willy-nilly out there trying to get from A to Z without thinking about everything in the middle. And you know, you also have to talk about- so we talk about the mission objectives, and then we talk about how we’re gonna do it. What is our plan the entire way? And then we end typically with contingencies, or we call them “What IFs” and we would write them in red on the board so they were highlighted. Now you can’t talk about all the contingencies. You never can, but you always hit the highlights of what might go wrong and think about that. So then when something does happen, your prepared to react properly, you know? What happens if we get shot at?

Tammy:
What happens if there’s a storm between us and our objective, what are we gonna do? What’s the backup plan? You know, what happens if we can’t find the target, what are we gonna do? You always wanna be prepared for those what ifs in case they go wrong. And then, you know, the most important thing I want to say too is, is when we get done, a lot of people don’t do this in life, but it’s so important. We debrief what happened. We go through the mission and we figure out what went, you know, what went wrong. Maybe the mission went right but there was a couple of things that went wrong. And we got to find out why. You don’t just say, “Oh, that went wrong. Why did it go wrong? Why couldn’t we find the target? Did we get bad data from Intel?

Tammy:
Did we put the wrong input in our navigation system?” Those two things would be very different. So you can’t just say, “Oh, we didn’t do it. We didn’t find it.” Why? Because you need to fix it next time and make it better. And we all want to get better. And you can do the same thing in life. Why did that go wrong and how can I make it better next time?

Christie:
Quick question for you. Did- in these debriefs, did you ever have celebration of what went right? Or did you just talk about what went wrong? I’m curious!

Tammy:
Yeah. Well, I think it depends on the instructor pilot.

Christie:
Right?

Tammy:
I am a huge advocate of telling people things they did right. Now that- this is the thing. I will also say that there’s not time to go over everything, you know, you did right. But I do think it’s important to hit some highlights. I specifically remember being a student and not knowing if I was doing it right or not. So then I’d change it. And now I was doing it wrong, but I had been doing it right because no one told me. Now I will- it’s interesting that you asked that question though, because a lot of times it’s like, just focus on what went wrong. But no, absolutely you’re- it’s important to hit the things that went right so that you can keep feeding that and making it better. I mean, I think that’s important in life in general. You people talk about the same. What is it- the positive sandwich or whatever you say-

Christie:
Oh, yeah. That when you give constructive criticism, you start with a compliment, sandwich it in with an, you know, the talking point and then, end with the compliment. Yeah.

Tammy:
No, I’m not saying that we necessarily have to do that, but I, I have been in an environment, a training program where there was a ton of positivity and which was very different than what I’d experience. And it was the most growth I have ever seen. And if you’ve ever watched The Masked Singer, have you watched that show?

Christie:
Oh!

Tammy:
So the panel, whenever the singer gets done, they’re always just raving. Always finding something good. And what I think is so interesting about that, is that if you force yourself to look for the good, you will- you’ll see it more and more and more, and not focus so much on the bad. I think so often we’re always looking for “Well they didn’t do this right.” And you feel like you have to say that. Well, no you don’t! Because you know what, if you build someone up in the good things, they’re gonna do more of the good things. Now obviously if the bad thing is something dangerous and we need to address that. But gosh, they say so much positive stuff, sometimes you’re like, “Wow! Every singer can’t be the best!” But I love it! It’s so, it’s so good! It’s like, you know how movies always have to end on a good note.

Tammy:
In my opinion, you don’t want that movie to end on a like, “What?!”

Christie:
Yeah. That’s the worst. That’s like the recipe for horrible reviews, because people like closure.

Tammy:
Yeah!

Christie:
They want to know the hero, you know, rode off into the sunset and the bad guys got punished, you know?

Tammy:
Well, you know, I might get, you know, a few comments about the positive thing, but I honestly think that, I mean, I’ve always said that high standards, limited errors and direct criticism are absolutely necessary in the fighter pilot community, and many other communities. But it’s how you communicate that, that matters. Are you gonna be all negative about it? Or can you bring some positive into that, lift people up. It sounds kind of cheesy and maybe overdone, but it’s important that we lift people up. We’ll get to better places, all of us.

Christie:
Yeah. And I even think, you know, the direct feedback, you know? You’ve got to also really consider how you’re coming across to that person and the personality of that person. And even the intentions of that person, because if you’re disconnected, your head and your heart, and you just start talking from your head.

Tammy:
Yeah.

Christie:
You could destroy, like obliterate someone and not even realize it because you’re totally disconnected, right? And so I agree. Not just saying, “Here’s what you did great. Here’s what you did wrong.” But like delivering it with heart.

Tammy:
Yeah. Oh for sure. I remember there was a student that had a really rough flight and I set them aside and I said, “Hey, what is going on? Where are- Where are you at?” And he looked at me like, “Should I really answer this question? You’re asking me like how I am?” And I was like, “No, I really- I’m getting this feeling that you just don’t think you can do it. And you’re like, just like defeat.” And he kind of got this relief over him because he was like, “Oh my gosh, somebody actually cares!” And it ended up propelling him up because he thought that, you know, he was, he thought he was failing. And I said, “Dude, no! You’re doing great!” I said, “just because you can’t land this plane and you know, two stories like you did the last plane, it’s a completely different plan.

Tammy:
In fact, it’s one of the more difficult planes in the entire Air Force inventory to land. So you are doing great. You’re grade sheet shows you’re doing great. Your flight, you’re doing great! I could just feel this defeat.” And the fact that he was like, “Wow, somebody really cares enough to pay attention to where I’m really at.” I think that matters! And it’s not, you know, it’s not me not being harsh enough. I can be tough when I need to be. And there’s places to be tough, but you have to determine those moments. When do you need to be tough? And when do we need to give a little bit more grace and heart? There’s times to do that too.

Christie:
Yeah. So well said.

Tammy:
Even up in the air, fine fighter jets-

Christie:
Well, this has been great. Can you please tell us how we can learn more about you and Athena’s Voice? And then go ahead and sign us off with a final thoughts or a final nugget of wisdom.

Tammy:
Absolutely. If you wanna find out more about Athena’s Voice, you can go to our website at AthenasVoiceUSA.com or follow us on social media at Athena’s Voice USA. If you want to reach me directly or inquire about one of our speakers, you can email [email protected] As for a final thought, I really just want to remind everyone that determination and mindset play a huge part in success. I have seen so many people over my career who quite frankly, didn’t have the skillset they needed, but because of their positive attitude and their perseverance, they were able to achieve their dreams.

Tammy:
Now a lot of times it was because other people saw that in them and so they poured into them to help them. So you know, we can’t- a lot of times can’t go on self-assessment of our skill level when we’re going for a goal. You know, sometimes our view of ourselves, isn’t an accurate picture. We got to listen to other people. So with a positive mindset, a lot of determination and a little bit of patience, you can get places that you never thought you would be.

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