The Seat Belt Sign’s Illuminated: 3 Rules for Flying & Life

Randy Carver

I earned my pilot’s license in 1986, and I have logged more than 2,000 flight hours. In flying, there are a number of rules, procedures, and axioms that pilots memorize so that in an emergency, they can act without having to overthink what to do in the moment. These simple rules can help keep us safe when things go wrong and provide guidance for life in general. As many have heard me say before, things can and will go wrong in life and with flying. The outcome is largely dependent on how we act, not on what happens to us.

“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.”

Stephen R. Covey

In the spring of 2020, as we all search for ways to adjust to the disruptions caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, we can all benefit from adopting these three guidelines.

Rule 1. Aviate, navigate and then communicate

First, fly the plane, then figure out where you are, and then communicate. It seems that with the current crisis, there are a lot of folks in the government and otherwise who are communicating without knowing where we are — and in the meantime, losing control of the situation.

Numerous aviation studies have found that many pilots get so focused on solving a problem in an emergency that they sometimes forget to fly the airplane. A very small thing cascades into a tragedy.

For example, before Eastern Airlines Flight 401 crashed in the Everglades on December 29, 1972, the pilots became so distracted by a burned-out indicator light in the cockpit that they actually flew the airplane into the ground. The axiom “Aviate, Navigate, Communicate,” teaches us to fly the airplane first, then navigate, and once the situation is under control, communicate.

As we deal with health-related, financial and other issues related to the Coronavirus, it’s important to think things through, figure out where you are and then communicate.

Rule 2. Stay ahead of the plane—never let the plane take you someplace your mind gets to first

Pilots are taught to “stay ahead of the airplane.” That means knowing exactly where you are, where you’re going at all times and what you will do next.

In life, and with wealth management, we need to have a plan, monitor our progress and then make adjustments. Things can and will change with flying and with our financial planning. We need to be proactive, not reactive when deciding what we will do next.

“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals; adjust the action steps.”


Rule 3. Taking off is optional—landing is not

One way or another, you will be coming back down. If you don’t think you can reach your destination or land safely, don’t take off. Once you are in the air, you will be landing.

With investing, we need to assess the risk of any strategy or investment and decide if it’s consistent with our personal needs, objectives and risk tolerance. It’s up to you, the captain, to decide if you are going to take off. Once you do, then you must follow the first two rules for a successful landing.

Even with the best of planning, a flight will sometimes run into turbulence or bad weather. This doesn’t mean you won’t make it to your destination; it simply means you might be delayed or have to change your route. Bad weather and turbulence are never comfortable.

“Man must rise above the Earth—to the top of the atmosphere and beyond—for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives.”


We are your co-pilots

As the markets and economy give us turbulence now due to uncertainty about the Coronavirus, the election, and myriad other factors, it’s key to have an experienced pilot and flight crew to get you to your destination safely. The trip might be delayed, and you might have to reroute your trip, but you will get to your destination safely.

Our team has more than 250 years of combined experience and has been through difficult periods before. We have developed and refined a process for wealth management that accounts for volatility; it is based on each client’s personal needs and objectives. We have state of the art technology and systems to help our team (flight crew), and we are prepared for what we are going through right now. It’s not comfortable when we hit turbulence, but we will get through it.

The seat belt sign is illuminated—the key is to stay in your seat and remain calm. We will provide updates (just like on a flight). We are here for you.

“If black boxes survive air crashes, why don’t they make the whole plane out of that stuff?”

George Carlin, Comedian

Feel free to phone us at (440) 974-0808 or email

For more resources on the current situation, please visit our Coronavirus Covid-19 Resources page.

The information contained in this report does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of Carver Financial Team, and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Investing involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss regardless of strategy selected. Individual investor’s results will vary. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Future investment performance cannot be guaranteed, investment yields will fluctuate with market conditions.

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