Come in a little closer. I’ll tell you a secret to make sure you pass your checkride every time. Just remember this little mantra: “You don’t win a fight, on fight night.”
How does that apply?
When I lived in New York City I had a friend named John. He was a short nondescript web developer at the New York Times helping to make graphs and things like that. We’re talking one day over a pint and he invites us to a Muay Thai kickboxing fight he’s going to be in the following week. “Stop. What?! You’re doing kickboxing, and you’re going to be in a fight with a ring and a referee and the whole deal?”
We had no idea and this led to a series of questions. “Are you afraid you’re going to get hurt? Knocked out?” “What if you lose?” His response was crystal clear, “I’m not going to lose.” But how can he be so certain?
John shared some words of wisdom from his coach, “You don’t win a fight, on fight night.” You win a fight in the months of training before you get there. You win in the 5am runs, the practice bouts, the weightlifting in the gym, and fast bag work. On fight night you are just there to claim the prize because you worked harder, longer, and tougher than the other guy.
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This blew my mind, and it stuck with me. It applies perfectly to flight training. You don’t pass your checkride, on checkride day. You pass a checkride in the 40, 60, 90 hours of flying that got you there. You pass a checkride in the study groups, and chair flying, and with the aerodynamics textbooks that are always with you. Checkrides are passed in learning from those go-arounds, and flying to your alternate because of bad weather. It should never be a toss-up on checkride day. You worked hard, studied everything you could find, and flew every day. You have already passed your checkride, you’re just there to collect your pilot’s certificate.