As a Naval Aviator, I was first introduced to the world of ‘psychological profiling’ by Captain Frank Dully, a U.S. Naval Flight Surgeon (https://www.usni.org/people/frank-e-dully-jr).
The video I remember distinctly was called ‘Sex and the Naval Aviator – Part 2.’ It was a psychological profile of a Naval Aviator. The title is a bit misleading, probably to capture the attention of a bunch of young aviators. I had never dreamed a person could profile me that accurately because I was a Naval Aviator.
He asked everyone in the audience, who was the oldest male in the family, to stand up. Nearly everyone did! He had everyone sit down. The next question was for the married aviators – who is married to the oldest born female of their family. Again, a vast percentage of the audience stood up.
He asked us why those two conditions were true. No one knew the answer; however, in the next hour, we would find out. His psychological assessment of Naval Aviators would not hold true in the Air Force, Army, or Coast Guard. It was valid only for the Navy.
As my naval career advanced, I socialized with many other aviators. I found that nearly 100% of every married Naval Aviator in all my squadrons over the years were married to the oldest born females in their families.
In the ‘70s, I followed Dr. Morris Massey, a sociologist who produced many very insightful training videos. You Are What You Were When (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6rPiehHQu8) was the first Dr. Massey video I watched as part of my management training at National Semiconductor.
Dr. Massey suggests (very, very strongly) that we are the total of our experiences. People born in the ‘30s had certain ingrained beliefs – as did those born in the ‘40s and ‘50s. Then, things began to change. A decade no longer defined us. Two kids born in the same decade in the ‘60s could be totally different because things changed so much during that decade.
Regardless, I think about how I have changed over time – from my Naval Aviation career (Vietnam to near the end of the Cold War) and subsequent senior officer billets in various commands in the States and overseas.
I retired with over 31 years of military service at the end of 1999. My naval career had twenty years of Reserve time that I worked for National Semiconductor, Memorex, Boeing, Halliburton, and other companies in quality engineering, reliability engineering, and logistics engineering.
Each company had its own culture and expectations. Each discipline had complex rules of conduct to produce success for the company. For example, I had training in the military to be a better this or that. The same thing happened in civilian life – more training to improve our forecasting, supervising, budgeting, etc.
It was not until 2007 that I discovered training for self-improvement, self-esteem, entrepreneurial skills, etc. My world changed. Nowadays, I write, speak, and publish books. I network almost daily. It is a totally different world than 50 years ago, and it should be. However, that inner compass, our value system, should remain the same.
We are creatures of habit, and it takes a lot of effort to change. Exercise gets more challenging, especially if you are injured. Eating becomes a habit and one that can kill you when you make enough wrong decisions. According to Dr. Massey, we do not change unless we experience a Significant Emotional Event – https://adflorem.com/blog/my-significant-emotional-event/#:~:text=Dr%20Massey%20defines%20a%20Significant,initial%20values%20or%20value%20system.%E2%80%9D.
Emotional events stick in the front row center part of our brain. It is difficult to see around them. Our lives can be changed by them, almost overnight! As young aviators, we learned to compartmentalize. When something occurred that changed the status quo, we could abort that primary mission – whatever it was, something as easy as brushing our teeth – and move on with life without emotional strings attached.
However, as life goes on, emotional events do enter our world. The pandemic is a perfect example of the world-changing around us. Nevertheless, when we keep to our original life’s course, our personal journey, our actions, based on our training and experiences, solidify our inner selves.
We continually age. We can see it every year. Our brains mature around the mid-20s and remain – no more mental growth. Yes, education, skills acquisition, and more can occur, but our mental capacity at age 65 is the same as age 25 – https://www.businessinsider.com/age-brain-matures-at-everything-2017-11#:~:text=Neuroscientists%20are%20confirming%20what%20car,is%20not%20yet%20fully%20developed.
Today, most of us have adapted to the pandemic restrictions. Our lives are going on despite external controls. As a teenager, I would eat two triple-meat, triple-cheese burgers (1.5 lbs.), and a large bucket (probably 64 ounces) of root beer from Whataburger almost daily. That was my staple diet until I went into the military in my early 20s.
Would I do that today? No! Will I still each a Whataburger? Yes, but not two triple-triples. However, wisdom, awareness, and education on health, wellness, and longevity will not allow me to indulge in the finer things of my earlier lifestyle. I am confident that as we think back over our lives, we have changed some habits for the better, and probably many for the worst.
If we are what we were then, how do we change to be better than back then? I welcome any thoughts and examples of life changes that you might want to share!
Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – RedOLaughlin.com