Mandy wanted to be a fighter jet pilot. They told her no. She didn’t listen. (or why fighter jets don’t have rear view mirrors) “Coffee with Colm”​

Mandy always dreamed of being not just a pilot but set her sights on the nigh on impossible task of becoming an RAF fighter pilot.

They told her it couldn’t be done.

She didn’t listen.

To contribute to the celebration of International Women’s Day earlier this week, I feel it appropriate to share 3 life-hacks I took from listening to the supremely accomplished and tremendously entertaining Mandy Hickson.

Mandy kept on keeping on and finally achieved her dream and realized Fighter Jets Don’t Have Rear View Mirrors.

At Pendulum Summit in Dublin, Mandy kept us on the edge of our seats as she told of the literal life and death missions she became part of, the hard work, and the narrow escapes. Personally I found it fascinating.

To find out what I took from Mandy’s fascinating journey watch the 4-minute video, listen to the 4-minute podcast or read on below…

Despite her ‘acing’ most of her tests all the way along, as a woman ‘they’ told Mandy it was not possible to become a fighter jet pilot and the final tests always proved ‘them’ right and her wrong so for years it remained elusively outside her grasp. There were many times she felt like throwing in the towel.

The part where she always fell down was formation flying. For some reason she could nail everything else but not this vital skill and it was for this reason ‘they’ decided it was a ‘woman’ thing – women obviously couldn’t…

Undeterred she kept on trying and managed to get to a point where a final final flight test was arranged – this was the one, she nailed it this time, or she went home.

Throughout her journey, her indomitable spirit meant she won the admiration and respect of her male colleagues who decided upon an ingenious plan to help her – they added wings to bicycles and practiced formation flying (or cycling) with her for hours in the car park the night before her final flight.

Next day Mandy nailed it! Mission accomplished.

I distilled three life-hacks from Mandy’s incredible story.

We need to know where we are headed and be fully forward-focused.

Fighter jets don’t have rear view mirrors. Fighter pilots are focused in one direction only – forward. They can’t afford to get distracted by what’s behind them.

However, a challenge with fighter pilots not having rear view mirrors is that pilots have a ‘blind spot’ behind them. They overcome this weakness by flying in formation with one or more buddies who look out for each other which is why Mandy learning too fly perfectly in formation was so necessary for her to graduate.

This leads us to the second life hack

Second, we need a trusted buddy to journey with.

Yes, we need a suitably qualified wing man or woman, an honest buddy by our side as we step into our future. By suitably qualified, I am not necessarily suggesting they need an academic qualification but they should be experienced in the area in which we are headed and ideally will have trodden a similar path previously.

A good buddy will keep an eye out for danger zones and will feel comfortable in the relationship so they can have the tough conversations if necessary to keep you and I on track.

Genuine caring is necessary for the buddy system too be most effective.

Third, we must stop looking in the rear view mirror.

Fighter jets don’t have rear view mirrors. Makes sense when you think about it. Fighter pilots are focused in one direction only – forward. They can’t afford to get distracted by what’s behind them. You and I need to be the same. Living life forward with one eye constantly on the rear-view mirror only serves to slow our progress.

You can’t measure your future successes against the successes (or otherwise) of your past. You cannot become the person you are set to become in the future if you continually cling to who you were in days gone by.

Quick recap:

  1. Know where you are headed and step towards it for as long as it takes
  2. Find an honest travel buddy who has your best interests at heart
  3. Resist looking in the rear view mirror – you’re not headed that way


Thanks for thinking with me.

Yours truly.


Watch | Listen | Read | Think.

Did you enjoy that? Fancy a sip of some of my recent “Coffee with Colm” Blog posts:

  • The Day Has Yet To Reveal Itself – 3 life-hacks from Colin Farrell – click here.
  • Two (and a half) Lessons I took from a misty mountain hike with a friend – click here.
  • Don’t Run on 3% – make sure to get proper rest – click here.

HIRE ME TO SPEAK. Consider me speaking at your event, launch, awards, or as your after-dinner keynote. Find out more here.

WORK WITH ME OR THE COBM | SOUNDING BOARD TEAM. Need help with your business? Check out the areas I and The Sounding Board of trusted experts can assist with. Find out more here.

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DEEP DIVE. If you would like to go deeper in your own personal journey, you can review the first step in my “12 Steps to Create the Life You Really Want” for FREE. Check it out here.

LinkedIn. Perhaps the thing to do right now is simply to hook up professionally on LinkedIn – if that’s of interest, click here.

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