Their eyes are closed in intense concentration. Each man has one hand resting lightly on the table, all hands holding onto an invisible handle moving in cadence with the leader's voice.

Six highly trained men, each of whom commands $28 million dollars of metal and technology are in an empty room, mentally rehearsing the precision movements of a show performed at up to 700 mph, where one misstep will result in immediate death. They are the Blue Angels.

The selection process for Blue Angel pilots is rigorous. Each applicant must be a career-oriented, carrier-qualified, active-duty Navy or Marine Corps tactical jet pilot with a minimum of 1,350 flight hours.

Once selected, "Angels" enter into intense training. At speeds approaching Mach 1, a hesitation of one second can spell disaster. The squadron focuses stress in a program built around exercise, weight training, cardiovascular health, flexibility training and healthy diet.

It goes without saying that vision is essential to the success of these jet pilots. Extensive physical exams ensure 20/20 vision that is sustained under intense g-force maneuvers. But there is another vision required for success as an "Angel."

Blue Angels, with all the skill, technology, and personnel supporting their own training, must also rely on their individual capacity to sit with eyes closed, visualizing the exact order and movements of their performance, a mental rehearsal of every detail. Their body can only perform what their mind can envision.

The power of a good mind is central to human success. Jet pilots "see" their F-18's speeding through the air before they ever climb into the cockpit. Mountain climbers fix their eyes on the heights before they ever take the first step.

Vision of success builds success. It is the ingredient of dreams. It inspires hope. It creates endurance through faith built on a picture we see with our mind.

Visions give us dreams. Lifting her lamp beside the golden door, the Statue of Liberty welcomes the tired and poor of the world to America. But they arrive on our shore long before their ships set sail. They arrive first in their dreams and visions of what life might be in a distant land.

What dreams and visions do we inspire in our children?

"We would teach abstinence," some tell us, "but we know kids are going to have sex anyway." A vision of failure is planted. It is nurtured. It is cultivated with thoughts of eventual failure.

Looking below, seeing the possibility of eventual failure, picturing ourselves falling off the mountain, what good does that do? Yet, that is what some would have us believe about our kids.

People came to America inspired by a vision. Pilots train with a vision. Yes, visions must be chased and caught. They require something of your own blood, sweat, and tears. But they give us the picture of heaven on earth, a target, a place to aim our aspirations.

Beware of people who expect us to fail. Listen for words predicting disaster. As we speak, so shall we think. And as we think, so shall we do.

The best educational program begins not with books and lessons and charts and graphs. It begins in the mind of a person who has captured the vision of success.

And the best teachers are those who can inspire the vision in others, who can train the eyes upward for the climb and paint a picture of what it will be like when you mount the peak, plant your flag, and claim success.


A former elementary school teacher, Jane Jimenez (speakout@fromthehomefront.org) is now a freelance writer dedicated to issues of importance to women and the family. She writes a regular column titled "From the Home Front" (fromthehomefront.org). Her work has appeared in both Christian and secular publications. Jane and her husband Victor live in Phoenix and have two children.

© 2005 Agape Press. Used with permission. All rights reserved.