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© Linda Shaffer-Vanaria 2018

Linda's Back Story

Linda’s inspirations in her own words; 

I learned many significant lessons from my youth.  One was that when you are disadvantaged, that you can still rally personal energy and resources to survive and thrive. 

 

This lesson in particular was exemplified by my mother.  She was very ill most of my childhood and when I was approximately nine years old I remember hearing that without significant changes in her life, she would likely not live a year.  She was in and out of hospitals and they never determined the causes of her illnesses beyond sharing the requirement for her to quit smoking.  My mom still found a way to take care of us the best she could, doing things like sitting on a stool when she cooked.  She did not have the energy to walk up stairs or hills.  She figured out if she walked backwards that she could make it further and if she went up the steps sitting going up one by one with rest periods, she could make it upstairs without help. 

 

My mom spent a lifetime of turning up what I call Holistic Rocks in search for solutions and things that could help her.  Although she was never really healthy, she discovered an incredible number of things to help herself live to almost 80 years old and see her own grandchildren… a remarkable feat!   I bring this to my consulting and coaching work.  I believe you need to keep turning up rocks until you find the solutions you are searching for.  It takes tenacity, sheer will and curiosity to keep on this path. 

From my father,  I learned that it is possible to survive the seemingly impossible.   My father served in World War II as a navigator in B-17s.  On his 23rd mission, his last mission before he would have completed his tour and shipped home, he was shot down and became a prisoner of war in Germany. Several of his crew were killed and during his time as prisoner of war he lost nearly 100 pounds and went on several death marches.  I also recall my father talking frequently at the dinner table about his landing in a manure pile following  jumping out of the plane he was shotdown in. 

 

What is significant about that is that my father’s parachute was damaged to the degree that when is parachute deployed it was essentially a streamer.  He essentially freefell 10,000 feet and it was the manure pile he landed in that saved his life.  

Linda's Back Story

 

What are the odds?  30 years later, during my training as a Naval Aviator, I was going down in an aircraft and had to eject.  In parity to my father where he had a streamer of a shoot, I initiated ejection and the seat did not fire on that attempt  I occasionally buy a lottery ticket to remind myself about what it means to have over million to one odds.  I rarely get one number and it reminds me when I think of father and my accident that beating the odds takes more than luck, it takes a forged instinct beyond what is in our DNA.

Linda’s signature story just shared above about going down in a military jet pulling the ejection handle with ejection sequence failing to occur is what Linda calls her" 2.5 seconds to live a leader’s guide story."  She was a rookie in the environment that mandated an expert. Linda survived by focusing on what is possible. She believes that the time to prepare yourself to be ready for whatever whenever is before the situation ever finds you. Linda believes that in business we often believe we do not have time for seemingly critical things. The mastery of leveraging micro-bites of thought, time and focus can change outcomes as big as saving your life or business. She brings this disciplined belief and focus to all her coaching and consulting. 

From my grandparents, I learned that instinct is pivotal in success and can help us through challenges without  formal education.  My mother’s father owned a Dairy and had an instinctive sense of good business with very little education.  My grandmother on my mother’s side finished her schooling at 8th grade and my grandfather completed his schooling at high school.  My grandfather knew how to run his business and when it was ultimately time to sell his business.  He evolved a sense of the important variables in the equation.  He taught me that having strong instincts is the foundations of survival and success in business.  He taught me to value "street smarts." 

Reach out to contact Linda about how she can help you

Linda's Back Story

 

In the operational world of the military and business street smarts is the operational sense you emerge and also the sense enabling you to tap into learning from others in the Ready Room, at the bar, in heart to heart conversations with stories.

 

I believe that there is no substitute for being ready for the whatever’s and whenever’s we may face so that we can live our lives full out.   I appreciate the foundation of these lessons in my life  as they have strengthened me in learning, engaging and teaching others about Leading at the Edge. 

 

To illustrate how significant these lessons have been when I entered the military I heard routinely when I shared that I wanted to become a Test Pilot that the odds were a chance in a million.  I would usually share back that it was one more chance than I thought I had and go  "I will take that chance."  At the time the U.S. Code Title 10 did not allow for women in combat so my goal was to do as many tacticaly aligned roles as I could to be positioned to be ready should the law change and also to have the greatest opportunities for success in a world that my men counterparts had clearcut pathways.  I had to evolve an approach to navigate the uncertainties and create the best pathways forward.

 

One of my beliefs is that when you push yourself to a limit that you evolve skills that can help you with other doors that may open that you do not currently know about.  When people would tell me I was wasting my time, I to the contrary always believed I was vested in the outcome and investing in the potential of opportunities.  My career achievement of becoming a U.S. Naval Test Pilot and one of the first women operational squadron Commanding Officers speaks to the validity of my belief and gives credence to it being a principled belief to be considered and adopted by others imagining and embracing the possibilities of their imminent and future story of unfolding success.

 

As hobbies, Linda is a prolific learner.  She also enjoys family time, motorcycle riding, cooking and art.  She loves stories of all kinds and the gifts of learning and imagination they provide.  She has incorporated her passion for stories in painting unique pieces of Story Furniture.  She finds that her art sparks her energy for creating models for leadership too.  She  has learned from her art to value the pathway of the sub-conscious and believe in until it can be conscious.   When you see the products of your art you see the emergence of the sub-conscious and intuitive mind in what you created.  She believes that leadership, thinking, focusing, pushing the EDGE and how we engage with volatility, uncertainty and chaos are all art forms that involve skills and science when available and the art of engagement otherwise.