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Cleared for Takeoff: Insights from Tommy Mello's Freedom Conference with Colonel Martha McSally

Home Service Training Event with Colonel Martha McSally
Home Service Training Event with Colonel Martha McSally

Cleared for Takeoff: Insights from Tommy Mello's Freedom Conference with Colonel Martha McSally

At the heart of Tommy Mello’s Freedom Conference on November 1st, Colonel Martha McSally's words rang clear: “You don’t have to fly solo” McSally, with a rich history as a combat pilot, shared invaluable lessons that resonated deeply.


Colonel McSally's riveting tale of her mission in Afghanistan was one for the books. With limited support and guidance, she dropped a missile with a singular goal: save the ground troops. Her takeaway? Don't feed the fear. Despite her trepidations, she focused on ensuring every American went home to see their family.

From this, we learn that fear is an emotion we all grapple with, but it shouldn't govern our actions. Colonel McSally wasn’t born with courage. Over time, like an athlete, she trained herself to face her fears and push through them. As she says, “Do things afraid." We must challenge ourselves, name our fears, and face them. What are you afraid of right now? For many, like Colonel McSally, the fear of losing everything is daunting. But using that fear as motivation rather than a deterrent can lead to significant growth.


Drawing parallels from her training, Colonel McSally emphasized the importance of planning, systems, standardization, and, most importantly, visualization. In aviation, pilots undergo a practice called "chair flying", where they visualize scenarios, preparing their minds for the real thing. This concept can be applied universally. Where we focus our energies, what we consistently think about, is where we end up. Hence, it’s imperative to be cautious of where our focus lies.

Her reminder was stark and simple: “Watch where you look.”


Quoting her chaplain, Colonel McSally reminded attendees about resilience with the phrase, “Jackass in a Hailstorm: Just take it until the weather changes.” This phrase encapsulates the essence of resilience. Mike Tyson's wisdom followed: *Everyone has a plan until they are punched in the face.” No matter the obstacles, having situational awareness and the ability to adapt is crucial. Remember, adversity happens for us, not to us.


Colonel McSally drew a clear line between two mindsets: fixed and growth. The former sees challenges as threats and harbors impostor syndrome, while the latter remains open to feedback and takes responsibility. It’s essential to constantly evaluate and shift our perspectives to ensure personal and professional growth.


Dropping the drag in our lives – whether it's past trauma, anger, regret, or bitterness – is essential. Holding onto past hurts doesn't harm anyone but ourselves. It's vital to deal with our internal issues, as they can hold us back from our potential. As Colonel Martha pointedly said, “Deal with your shit, or it will slow you down.”


Believe that you are in the driving seat. Whether it's your mind, body, or views, you have the power to influence your trajectory. Don't be a passive passenger in your life journey. Instead, look forward through the windshield, not continuously in the rearview mirror.


Colonel McSally encouraged attendees to visualize their future. Imagine it's November 2024: What has changed? Have you provided your team with the guidance and resources they need? Remember, it's crucial to bring everyone on the mission with you. Understand their 'why' so they can feel part of a bigger mission and purpose.

Colonel Martha McSally’s insights were not just about flying but about life itself. They’re a testament to her journey – from being planted in a world where females couldn't be fighter pilots to becoming the first female commander of a Fighter Squadron in combat. Her story is a powerful reminder for all of us: For those who refuse to settle, the sky is not the limit; it's just the beginning.

This article is published by Dr. Anissa Villegas, co-owner of Marketing with a Flair. Marketing with a Flair is an award winning, full service marketing agency focused on helping Home Service businesses grow profitably. To learn more, email


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