Enjoying the evening with friends, Maria shared a story that resonated.  “I got my chops early on in college when I was the only woman on a student led board.” Through that experience Maria learned to stand up for herself, push back and make her voice known. It was tough and demanding AND prepared her well for corporate life.

I thought about it. In my vernacular, I call it earning your wings.

When I graduated from flight school, I earned my wings. With the pomp and circumstance befitting a Navy ceremony, we were awarded our wings at the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, FL. Under four shiny blue jet aircraft in the Blue Angel diamond formation, I received my wings. Thirteen of us graduated that day, and I was the only woman. At that point, naval aviation had been open to women for just eleven years. Then there were fewer than 150 women naval aviators, now there are several thousand.

One by one we were called forward to receive our wings. The master of ceremonies sounded off, “Ensign Bell graduates with honors.” I eagerly leapt forward to receive my Wings of Gold, embracing the fact that my dream had come true. No one could ever take that credential away from me.

Trials are meant to test us. They prepare us for what is next in our lives. My bet is that you have seen that fact unfold in your life. Four years at the Naval Academy prepared me for the challenges of flight school. Flight school prepared me to FLY.

How have you been tested and how have you earned your wings?

Think about it, drop me a line, then share your story with someone else.

As always, Fly High,


Want to know more? Need help cultivating resilience or earning your wings? Check out my other blog posts at captainbarbarabell.com and of course my book, Flight Lessons: Navigating Through Life’s Turbulence and Learning to Fly High.

#gratitude, #veterans, #coaching, #mentoring, #leadership

Years later at the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola