The Strength of Asking For Help


The Strength of Asking For Help~Guest Blogger Aaron Dabney, MSEd, MCFI

When I was a brand-new CFI, I was a chief pilot of one.  Literally.  I’d been given the keys to an office, a nice airplane, and a mandate to figure out how to make a flight school work at an airport where there had been no home-based school in nearly a decade.

ask for helpIt was awkward enough that I was pretty new to the aviation community in my area, but the audacity of standing up a flight school with the ink still wet on my certificate had me convinced that asking for help was the last thing I should do if I was to be taken seriously.  If that wasn’t enough, I had (and still have, if I’m honest) this independent streak that thrived on the idea of “me versus the world.”  If I couldn’t figure it out for myself, maybe I wasn’t good enough.

If I stopped my story there, you’d be getting some pretty terrible advice.  Fortunately for you, you’ve already taken the first step of what I’m going to encourage you to do here by being part of NAFI.  You’re an integral part of an organization representing thousands of years of professional experience.  Don’t be afraid to leverage that!

Here are a few things I’ve learned since those early days in my career about asking for help:

  1. It’s not a sign of weakness and incapacity; it’s a sign of strength and intelligence.  The self-awareness to acknowledge what you don’t know or aren’t good at, and seek out the counsel of those who do or are, will lead you to growth quicker than just about anything else can.

  2. Your students shouldn’t suffer because you’ve let your own learning curve go flat.  If you’re “figuring it out” on your own, chances are they will suffer.

  3. The people you’re most intimated to ask for help, will often be the most giving of their time, talent, and counsel.  People who stick around a profession like ours long enough to become a “legend” are usually hard-wired to leave a legacy, and they know that’s hard to do if their trade secrets die with them.

  4. Good mentees often end up becoming good mentors, so asking for help could give you the opportunity to leave a bigger “ding in the universe,” as Steve Jobs said.
I could boil all this down by saying that in every profession I’ve been involved in, the best students have made the best teachers.  So don’t be afraid to keep yourself in student mode.  In the next couple weeks, you’ll be receiving an e-mail from NAFI inviting you to become part of the beta test group for our new mentor program.  We’ll get plenty of amazing mentors signed up, but we need you too.  We can’t have a mentor program without strong mentees, and I promise your career and your students will thank you!


Aaron Dabney NAFI BODAaron Dabney
NAFI Board Member and MCFI
NAFI #27887






Blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace independent, professional judgment. Statements of fact and opinions expressed are those of the author individually and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, are not the opinions or position of the National Association of Flight Instructors. NAFI does not endorse or approve, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, accuracy or completeness of the information presented. Readers should note content may appear in various media, including print, email, enews without further notice.
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