One clear November morning in 2006, I had the bucket list opportunity of flying with my friend Orestes Lorenzo during family vacation. As I strapped into his L-29 Delphin jet (the very model that he trained in during the 80’s while serving in the Cuban Air force), I could only reflect on his incredible legacy of heroism and ponder what was at the center of it all?
You see, in March 1991, Lorenzo had defected from Cuba in his MiG 23, landing at Naval Air Station – Key West Florida. When publicity and U.S. pressure for Castro to release his family had failed, Lorenzo took matters into his own hands. He relayed a secret message to his family to meet him at a coastal highway on December 19, 1992. On that day, Lorenzo flew a Cessna 310 under radar barely above the waves back into Cuba, landed on the highway between traffic, picked up his family and flew them safely back to Florida.
By his own estimations, Lorenzo didn’t think the rescue mission would work. There were far too many ways to fail. Surface to air missiles, mechanical failure, cars on the highway, family not being there when he landed, and perhaps the biggest threat, the Cuban Air Force that he used to serve. None of those risks or fears could de-rail a deep sense that God was with him and somehow everything was going to be ok. Nothing could stop him from living out his clear purpose of providing a better life for his family.
Since that day, Lorenzo has achieved his Vision of bringing his entire family to America in alignment with his purpose. He has built successful businesses and an incredible family legacy.
So what did I learn from this legend as he tried to peel the skin off my skull at 6.5 g’s during our flight?
We just don’t have as much darn control as we think we do. If we are not connected with our clear purpose as people, as organizations, then we will never reach lasting fulfillment and we will under-perform. We may even achieve some level of success, but are we successful in the right things? It’s time to start asking who are we? and who do we want to become? rather than, what are we? and what do we want to become?
What is your Purpose?
Is it worth risking everything for?
Can you live it out, no matter where you are or what circumstances you are facing?
Can you live it out, no matter what circumstances your team is facing?
If the answer is Yes, then all things are possible.
Sources and suggested readings:
“Wings of the Morning” by Orestes Lorenzo. Available in Spanish and English on Amazon, December 1993.
“Former MiG pilot Orestes Lorenzo recounts his daring defection flights, September 28, 2013. Military Aviation Magazine: a Division of 20th Century Aviation Magazine, Inc.
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