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What I Learned From a Fighter Jet Pilot
Ed Rush and ‘The 21-Day Miracle’
Dr. Larry and Ed Rush
With Independence Day being celebrated this month, it is the perfect time to remember those military members who have served our country. It’s also a great time to consider what those of us who have not served can learn from them. One of those veterans is former Marine Corp fighter pilot and flight instructor, Ed Rush. When Ed first joined the Marines, he was not sure whether or not he would be able to make it through the grueling experience of boot camp. He met another recruit who had accidentally broken his toe during training and had to leave. Rush briefly considered doing the same — on purpose — in order to get out of boot camp without being labeled a quitter. He ultimately decided to persevere. As a result, he eventually flew over 50 combat missions as an F-18 fighter jet pilot, became the primary instructor for one- on-one dogfighting for the Marines, and earned an Air Medal for his service. Today, Ed Rush spends more time on stage than in the cockpit, using the many lessons he learned in the military to help people reach goals that are important to them. Recently, I had the opportunity to see him speak, and I spent some time chatting with him afterward. He was encouraging and inspiring, with a great sense of humor and lots of helpful ideas. In one of his best-selling books, “The 21- Day Miracle: How to Change Anything in 3 Weeks,” I found many valuable lessons that have been helpful to me, and I think they could be helpful to my patients.
Though Rush has accomplished a great deal in the military and in business, he insists that those accomplishments had nothing to do with his superior determination, innate skill, or intelligence. (He flunked out of kindergarten.) Instead, he credits his success to two things: using proven principles that anyone can use and having good training. Two of the principles Rush credits for his success – and the success of many people – are: 1. It takes about 21 days of consistent work to develop a habit or accomplish something of significance. 2. Most accomplishments are achieved with the “sprint then rest” approach rather than the “slow and steady” approach. He mentions that, although boot camp lasts thirteen weeks, it takes three weeks of boot camp to “make a Marine.” In those three weeks, the new recruit develops the mindset and basic skills to be a Marine. The rest of the time is spent honing those skills. It is interesting to note that research shows it takes about three weeks for most people to adapt to new sounds from new hearing aids and start to get maximum benefit. During that time, it may be easy to become discouraged, but my experience with many patients over the years confirms that those who stick out those 21 days, like Ed Rush did, are likely to discover a whole new world of better hearing. In general,
three weeks is enough time to really accomplish something, but it’s not so long that you will get burned out. Rush learned the importance of good training as a fighter pilot. More than once, while flying his F-18, he got into dangerous situations and there was no time to figure out what to do. Knowing what to do because of his training saved his life. While I can’t say that the training we give our patients in how to handle difficult listening situations has saved their lives, we often hear from patients about how the coaching and instruction we have provided them with saved them from frustration and embarrassment. I have found that if you want to improve your listening ability (or any aspect of your life), putting in concentrated effort for a few weeks and having good training can make all the difference. You don’t need to be an award-winning F-18 fighter pilot to make some real improvements in your quality of life!
–Lawrence Cardano, Au.D.
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