Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Posted by Jason O. Harris on Feb 1, 2020 2:21:00 PM

I stand on the shoulders of greatness.  Shoulders of great men and women.  

I recently had the opportunity to speak with, interact with and answer questions from a group of high school students. Speaking with and answering the questions of these brilliant, intelligent and curious students reminded me of my journey. These students reminded me of who I am, where I come from and my humble beginnings. These students had similar stories as mine and they looked just like me. Many of these students had never met a pilot before, much less, a pilot that looked like them.

No alt text provided for this image

As I sit and review the history of my life and my career, it is amazing to realize that it has been more than 20 years ago that I was introduced to flying and the amazing people that paved the way for me. 

Growing up in inner city Oakland, CA, literally a stone’s throw away from the Black Panther Party Headquarters, raised by a single mom, I had no idea or concept that I could aspire to, accomplish and achieve the things I’ve been so fortunate to have done. Attend the U.S. Air Force Academy. Fly airplanes for the greatest Air Force in the world. Fly airplanes for a commercial airline, around the world. Actually pilot a commercial jet in and out of Oakland, the city I was statistically not supposed to survive. 
No alt text provided for this image

I can honestly tell you that these accomplishments were not even a part of my dreams growing up. Why? Because it was not something I had seen and it was something I had never been exposed to. How can one aspire to something they don’t even realize is a possibility? 

How can one aspire to something they don’t even realize is a possibility? 

It was not until I was in college, at the United States Air Force Academy, that I learned about the Tuskegee Airmen. I was fortunate to meet and have conversations with Documented Tuskegee Airmen (DOTA) like Col. (ret.) Charles McGee, Lt Col (ret) Lee Archer, Jr., Lt Col (ret) James H. Harvey, III, Lt Sam C. Hunter, Jr. and many others. These real-life American Heroes and Giants had a story, and an amazing history and had paved the way for me to dream bigger and bolder. They told me their stories of perseverance through the many challenges and obstacles. They told me their stories of triumph. And they encouraged me to not be afraid to face and conquer the same challenges. 

No alt text provided for this image

In addition to meeting members of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, I was afforded the opportunity to meet others that looked like me, had similar backgrounds as me and encouraged me to chase my dreams of success. Capt Bob Willoughby, my first Air Officer Commander at the USAF Academy, Col (ret) Michael "Moses" Malone, a flight instructor and now fellow American Airlines pilot, Maj (ret) Yolandea Wood and Rich Hall were just a few of the memorable examples of what I could aspire to be. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was having conversations with living legends. I was sitting at the feet of giants and they gave me the opportunity to stand on their shoulders and reach for my dreams. 

Today, as I reflect on my life and experiences, it is clear that I have been afforded the opportunity to stand on the shoulders of greatness. I have been given the chance to stand on the shoulders of giants. Stand on the shoulders of superheroes. 

These giants and superheroes have paved the way for me and many others to dream big and chase our dreams. 

As I continue to live out my life I am reminded to reflect on what a gift I was given. Now I must reflect on what I will do with that gift. What will I do to allow the next generation to see me, dream big and know that it is possible for them to be more than what they might have thought possible. 

No alt text provided for this image

Like me, I would venture to say that many of you have had the opportunity to stand on the shoulders of giants throughout your life. Can you recall any of those giants whose shoulders you have stood and continue to stand on? Are you showing up and allowing others to see you and allowing the next generation to stand on your shoulders?

As we prepare to kick off the month of February and celebrate Black History, I wanted to share pictures and stories of the people that helped me to dream. Share thoughts of my journey and thoughts of the many people that have paved the way for me to have the opportunity to enjoy a life fulfilled. 

I stand on the shoulders of greatness.  Shoulders of great men and women.  

I stand on the shoulders on GIANTS and everyday SUPERHEROES.

Whose shoulders do you stand on and who will stand on your shoulders one day?

No alt text provided for this image

TRUST your people like your
business depends on it.

 
Keynotes, consulting, & workshops to ensure your frontline employees deliver the brand promise in every customer encounter.

Subscribe Here!

Recent Posts

Posts by Tag