When life gets tough, you can always count on former Topgun instructor and author Dave Baranek, (call sign “Bio”) for meaningful ideas on how to deal with difficult times and people.
His new book “TOMCAT RIO: A Topgun Instructor on the F14 Tomcat and the Heroic Naval Aviators Who Flew It,” is a fun and fascinating read, full of the former squadron leader’s adventures, lessons and inspirations in the Topgun Days and before.
Baranek enjoyed a 20-year career in the U.S. Navy and is now a defense contractor living in Florida. The man has seen and done it all. He shared how we can apply some of his Topgun training and professional insights to our lives.
When a task or assignment seems intimidating: “I reminded myself that others had done it, or done something similar. I think people should take a second look and then get going. Some projects seemed enormous, such as when I had to develop an all-new lecture at Topgun that would change the way Navy fighters operated — and I was a 26-year-old lieutenant. I dealt with this several times in the Navy and also after I retired, such as writing a book and getting it published. “
Dealing with an unpleasant personal or business situation: “It would’ve been easy to avoid the problem, but instead I spoke to the other person directly. I had an open mind about the discussion and wasn’t confrontational, I just wanted to get the issue into the open. One time I realized that it was my behavior causing the problem, so that was something I fixed. Another time we discovered that a third party was trying to stir up trouble in our team, so that was an interesting discovery.”
The importance of teamwork: “As a Topgun instructor, I learned a meaning of teamwork. It is not “making things easy” or doing favors for your friend, it’s working together to accomplish established goals. Topgun had very high standards for all instructors. They did not change the standards so a new instructor could qualify, instead the other instructors put in the time to help the new person meet the standards.”
Play by the rules: “A personal rule that I developed as I became more senior and gained more responsibility, was that I did not establish rules that I did not enforce. I’ve been in plenty of organizations that have rules that look good, but people say, “Oh, we don’t really do this one. No one cares about that one.” That drove me crazy, so I was sure that I meant what I said.”
If you’re waiting for Tom Cruise’s new movie on Topgun, “Tomcat Rio” is for you. The book is available online from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. For more on Dave “Bio” Baranek, visit his website.