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Alongside his 30-year career as a fast jet pilot and operational commander, Group Captain Rob Caine MBE runs his own coaching company, Aces Pegasus.

I was the 11-year-old who wanted to be a fast jet pilot and, sadly for my family, did not grow up. Despite the trite adage that you cannot grow up and be a fighter pilot, my reasons for my ambition were much more a mixture of adventure and deeply held conviction. Of course, I loved sports and academic work, but I was really passionate about trying my absolute best and striving for things seemingly out of reach. I wanted a job that really challenged me both mentally and physically - an office job would not quite cut it. The Royal Air Force job adverts now says, “No Ordinary Job” and that is absolutely true (if you join an amazing family like the RAF that is the case whatever profession you choose to serve in). However, I love the motto of the RAF, “Per Ardua Ad Astra” - “Through Adversity to the Stars. The lesson for me was - life is never easy, but set your ambition sky high and make your obstacles become your opportunities.

I loved the idea of flying, and unlike my friend and co-director Al “Peps” Pepper, where Top Gun was more of a factor, I guess my influence, at a sub-conscious level, was the amazing Star Wars films which first came out in Canada when I was about five years old. I think some terrible teenage fashion choices involving a black waistcoat highlighted that I actually wanted to be Han Solo, flying to save the Galaxy against the evil Empire! Isn’t it amazing what your sub conscious mind is picking up ALL of the time.

However, on a more serious level, my parents were really diligent in making me and my brother watch the documentary series “The World at War." We were about nine and eleven respectively living in South Africa under the last terrible days of Apartheid. The last episode, Number 26 if you look on YouTube, tries to sum up the terrible nature of war by personalising the tragedy and unfairness of it all. In one key scene, the esteemed actor Laurence Olivier spells out in the most penetratingly British way possible that we really were watching people fight to the death for a rotten potato in a prison camp. The message is clear, "This is the World at War, and we should all do our part to stop it happening again." That was it. I wanted to do my part, against the unfairness of Apartheid racism, against far right or extremist leaders who dragged people into tragedy, and yes, by challenging myself flying fast jets while I fought against evil.

In later life, I have had an amazing time flying Tornado and Hawk Jets all around the world and I learned a lot from failing and succeeding along the way. I became a Qualified Weapons Instructor (the UK Top Gun Course), flew thousands of hours on Tornado and tours over the Middle East. I flew ultra-low level combat missions, at night and in cloud, flying at 8-9 miles a minute in America, Canada, the UK, Europe and further afield.

I led on huge exercises as a Mission Commander and Commanded, and taught, as a Tactical Weapons Instructor on Hawk T1 and the more advanced Hawk T2. These experiences have helped me firstly as a decision maker, as Chief of Staff of Operations in the Middle East planning and executing missions on an operational level and secondly as one of the Air Command leaders who led on Op PITTING, the recovery of 15,000 people from HKIA in Afghanistan.

As a result, I really want to pass on this knowledge and experience in my work and in my coaching. It is not simply about leadership and high-performance. Just like when I was 11 years old, I still really want to help people, add value and be of service. If this was my passion then my family and ensuring their future, both at home and in a free and democratic country, was my purpose. Even today, in a more uncertain and dangerous world, I am passionate about doing my part. For my son, for my wife, for my family, for my community, for freedom. It sounds cheesy, doesn’t it? Find your why. Mine is hugely powerful and heart felt.

However, I have also learned a lot from my wife and her passion and profession - horses. Like a Harry Potter story, the ‘Equine World’ is full of potions, confusing terminology, danger, and occasionally flying about in an uncontrolled manner. It is also a small community and a world of amazing people doing amazing things that most sensible folk simply do not understand. I did not understand it and especially so when my wife was doing her Masters in Equine Science and riding at a dangerously advanced level in 3-Day and 1-Day Eventing. Let’s just say equine biomechanics are complicated and high rotational cross-country falls very risky. I was also, if truth be told, a little wary of horses and way out of my comfort zone.

When I started trying to learn to ride, I did it to learn, to overcome my fear and to understand my wife’s world. Sadly, for someone who normally picks up new skills easily, I had another jolt - I was not a natural nor very good at it. Compared to most, I am still a novice after many years in the saddle. However, I took that problem as a challenge and loved learning new skills.

Hilariously when I announced my new ambition to do some low level 1-Day British Eventing (jumping 90cm fences cross country), my amazing instructor Kate burst out laughing. Not a great confidence booster! But with the help of my brilliant wife Arantxa, my family, my coaches and others, I did learn how to ride better, bond with my ever-patient horse Theo and learn how to get “in flow”, in “my fast jet bubble” and ride the next fence.

The bond with another living thing - weighing 650kg, travelling at 30mph cross country and jumping big solid fences - was just like the adrenaline of flying a Tornado at 600mph at 100ft off the ground - or being shot at with a superb crewmate working in synergy with you to achieve the mission and survive.

So, when you are trying to find your purpose, maybe take some time to find out what core things anchor you in your life. It can take just 5 minutes of purposeful practise and concentration. Think of 4 things that shaped you, 3 things that drive you, 2 things that catch your attention and the 1 most important thing(s) in your life.

Merge this analysis with your own Ikigai diagram and, like me, you may just see a pattern for what you should do and why. Or maybe, get out of your comfort zone, maybe get on a horse, and do something amazing and new. You never know where it will take you. Reach for the stars!

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