Linda's Back Story

Linda's Back Story continued

Linda's Back Story continued

Linda's life-changing experience. . .

     What are the odds?  In parity with my father, when he bailed-out and had a streamer of a chute, 30+ years later during my training as a Naval Aviator and in a high-performance jet, I was going down and had to eject.  After pulling the ejection handle, instead of rocketing out of the airplane, I was still trapped inside, with the ground becoming larger and larger. I literally had only a few seconds left. Relying on the instincts that to-date I had developed, I tried firing the seat a second time by gripping and actuating the ejection handle differently and it saved my life. 

Linda’s signature story above is what she now terms her 2.5 Seconds To Live; A leader’s Guide Story. Here, she was a rookie in a situation that mandated an expert. Linda survived by focusing on what is possible. She is living proof that the time to prepare oneself to be ready for the whatever and whenever is now, before the situation is even possible. In the business world, the common and prevailing thread that Linda hears from leaders at all levels is that they do not have time to consider what they are doing or how they are doing it. Rather, they simply act, without evaluating how each piece fits into their overall success engine. Yet through her engagement in coaching and consulting, Linda empowers leaders in mastering and leveraging  what she terms micro-bites of thought, time, and focus, to change outcomes as big as saving a life or the business or corporation itself. Linda brings this disciplined approach to all her clients in shaping their own instincts and in doing so, she never forgets her own rooted beginnings and earlier career. 


     I now occasionally find myself buying a lottery ticket as a reminder of  having only seconds to live and what it truly means to beat  the odds. Note that I rarely match even one  ticket number correctly. This brings me back to my time in that one jet airplane with only seconds to live, and how my own situation was in no way about luck, but rather about instinct beyond my own DNA. There absolutely is no substitute in being ready for anything we may face and I apply my own foundation in learning, engaging, and teaching to my clients in promoting leading at the Edge.

Linda’s inspirations in her own words, from her parents and grandparents. . .

     I learned many significant lessons from my youth, the most important of which is that there is always opportunity. . .

As with most children, Linda's early lessons were learned from her parents. From her father, Linda drew her inspiration to pursue her first career in aviation and learned that no situation is impossible. . .  

     My father served in World War II as a B-17 navigator.  On his 23rd mission, actually to be his last mission before he was to have completed his tour and  get shipped home, his plane was shot down . My father was immediately captured and  he became a POW for the duration of the war. Never mind that upon bail-out, he had a partial chute (impossible situation #1), only to land in a manure pile which cushioned his fall and saved his life. Several fellow POWs did not survive internment, mainly due to malnourishment (impossible situation #2). Yet ,despite losing nearly nearly 100 pounds and after several "death marches," he made it to repatriation by eating plants, bugs, and anything else he could find.  

From her mother, Linda also drew inspiration. . .

     My mother, a former heavy smoker, was determined to improve her health. She passionately researched  and overturned what I now call "Holistic Rocks" living to just-shy of 80 years old and seeing her own grandchildren.  Physicians had already written-her-off (impossible situation #3). It takes tenacity, curiosity, and on occasion, sheer will to succeed.  Sometimes, you need to keep turning up rocks until you find the solutions you are searching for. 


And from her grandparents, Linda learned about business success. . .


     My grandparents taught me that instinct is pivotal to success and will see us through any challenge. With no formal education beyond high school  and in the case of my grandmother, only an 8th grade education (impossible situation #4), my maternal grandparents owned and solely operated a dairy, evolving and relying upon their own instinctive sense of good business. They both taught me that having strong instincts is the foundations of  thriving in business.  They taught me to value "street smarts." 

Linda's application to today's environment. . .

   My experience is that in pushing yourself to a limit, skills evolve that absolutely will open doors that currently, may be locked.  Early in my career, others would tell me that I was wasting time in pursuit of becoming a Navy test pilot and squadron commanding officer. Yet I continued to believe and pushed myself, and those doors did open. 

When Linda entered the Navy and openly shared that she wanted to become a test pilot, she was advised that her chances were about one in a million.  She would then usually share back that it was one more chance than she thought she may have  At that time, U.S. Code Title 10 did not allow for women in combat, so Linda's goal became to achieve as many tactically aligned roles as she could  position herself for and to be ready should the law change. She thus evolved an approach to navigate career uncertainties and created for herself the best possible pathway forward.  Here, Linda applies this approach of creating pathways to her range of clients and their individual business challenges. 

     I'm a prolific learner and I also enjoy family time, motorcycle riding, cooking, and art. I love stories of all kinds and the gifts of learning and imagination they inspire,incorporating many of these into painting unique pieces of Story Furniture. 


Linda finds that her art sparks in her an energy for creating leadership models in valueing the pathway of the sub-conscious and believe in it until it evolves into the conscious.

      Wen you see the products of your art, you see the emergence of the intuitive mind in what you created.  Leadership, thinking, focusing, pushing the EDGE and how we engage with volatility, uncertainty, and chaos are all art forms that require skills and science when available and the art of engagement otherwise. 

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© Linda Shaffer-Vanaria 2018