I shouldn’t get the seven-year itch until the 2016 Wichita Aero Club Gala, but I confess. It hit me as planning for the sixth-annual gala ramped up. I’ve served as co-chair since the first gala in 2009. It continues to be a labor of love – elevating the aviation industry in general and the Air Capital in particular while generating life-changing and workforce-building student scholarships. But increasingly I find myself wondering if it’s time for new ideas and leadership. When do you know it’s time to step aside and make way for someone else?

Start With a ManifestoChurchillQuote-01

Draft a simple statement that declares your purpose. The act of putting pen to paper focuses your thinking. Putting goals into writing lets you step back and look at challenges/solutions more objectively, critically and strategically.

Get Real

Have a heart-to-heart with yourself. Do you feel stressed and overextended? Dig deep to uncover your personal truth. This takes time, which is probably why most people avoid this kind of active soul-searching, preferring to go along and just get along.

Talk to Your Mentor

This presumes you have a mentor. If you don’t, identify one – or more. We all need someone in our life who cares about us enough to give advice (a past boss or industry peer, for example) – but who does’t care so much that she can’t be objective (like a spouse or parent). Talking to someone who knows your strengths and whose input you respect can make all the difference.

Calculate Your Return on Investment

Be brutally honest. How much time does this event/support take? And what is the return? Create one column for you and another for the organization. In your personal column you might list things like deeper friendships and skill building, while in the organization’s you might list things like a highly successful event managed by a seasoned pro. As you look at these, it may become obvious that you’re experiencing diminished returns – both for yourself and the organization.

Consider Your Options

If you weren’t giving your time to this, how else might you spend those precious hours/days/weeks? Are there initiatives more deserving of your effort or more aligned to your interests/passions?

Stepping Down While Stepping Up

This Saturday, January 24, promises to be another memory-making, record-breaking gala. But I’m eager to debrief next year’s co-chairs and hear their fresh ideas. I’m also looking forward to serving the club in new ways. I’ve been thinking. And have lots of ideas.

Pictured at top: NBAA President Ed Bolen; Wichita Aero Club President Dave Franson; Greteman Group VP and Gala Trophy Chair Ashley Bowen Cook; Wichita Aero Club Trophy Recipient and Cessna Aircraft Company Chairman Emeritus Russ Meyer ; and ADR President and Wichita Aero Club Board Chairman Patrick Tuttle. Formal portraits of guests by VMG LLC © 2014 Jeffrey D. Hetler.

This column ran in the January 22 issue of BlueSky Business Aviation News.