Sunday, August 30, 2015

From Hustler to Zen Pilot

The morning of July 19th of 2015 started as usual; I woke up frantically grabbing my phone to snooze my obnoxiously loud 6 A.M. alarm. For some strange reason, I had thought I could train myself to get up early in the morning if I played something irritably loud. But my “brilliant” idea worked only partially: high-decibel sound would certainly wake me up, but it wasn’t a good enough motivator to put me in a vertical position; the moment I touched my smart phone, I would lose myself in catching up with the “so important” nowadays digital world and stay in bed for another 30 minutes.  

That morning I checked my text messages first. Not finding anything interesting, I moved on to Facebook, and the first thing I read was a post from my good friend from San Diego:
“EMERGENCY LANDING at Kuala Lumpur (KLIA2) today after loss of oil pressure at 10,000 feet of the coast. I declared an in-flight emergency and coasted in… Details to follow…”

Robert DeLaurentis and I were just Facebook buddies for some time before we actually met in person back in March, while I was attending Social Media Summit 2015 in San Diego. I was 20 minutes late for our meeting, but he was very patient with my poor navigation skills, watching me circling around Balboa Park like a mad woman in attempt to find him.

From his Facebook posts I knew quite a bit about Robert and his biggest passions –flying, public speaking, traveling—but I was mostly eager to talk about his major adventure: an upcoming flight around the world in 90 days in his single-engine 1997 Piper Malibu Mirage plane, which he called “Spirit of San Diego.”

That night I felt intoxicated from the excitement of his idea of flying around the world on a single-engine airplane and was firing off questions at 100 mph:
What was his motivation?
Was he scared?
What kind of safety equipment would he be using?
What if the weather was bad?
Who were his sponsors?
Who was promoting his trip?
How many countries was he going to visit?

I caught myself thinking that most of my questions were about fear and expectations of negative scenarios. I never asked him if he was more excited or worried about this flight. He calmly answered my questions, smiled a lot, and described the trip in detail. It was obvious that he wasn’t afraid of the challenges and was fully prepared for emergency situations; his voice was warm and relaxed like a Southern California breeze.

Robert also told me about writing his first book. The title, “Flying Thru Life,” perfectly explained his idea of applying spirituality in life and business in order to reach a higher altitude. That inner space—peaceful, beautiful, and sunny—is above the turbulence of fear and the clouds of uncertainties.

Five months later, that book, “Flying Thru Life: How to Grow your Business and Relationships with Applied Spirituality,” was published. It took me only a few hours to read my friend’s whole life story and the valuable lessons he has learned along his way.

Of the many amazing things I learned about Robert from his book, I have to joke about this one: only in California can you earn a degree in “Spiritual Psychology with emphasis in consciousness health and healing”—and make money practicing it!  On the East Coast, we (as Gary V. would say) hustle.

In the beginning of his career, Robert was a typical hustler, type “A” personality, and bully, who rightfully earned his nickname, “Bobby D. Steamroller,” because of his unique ability to “plow” through people’s lives, fighting both in and out of court, antagonizing nonpaying tenants with special vindictiveness and escalated rage, and screaming at the top of his lungs when he argued.

I never knew Bobby D. Steamroller. The Robert I know now is a warm, kind man with a calm and beautiful smile, who is grateful for every opportunity he’s got to help others, for every friend he makes, for every nautical mile he flies, for every dawn he witnesses, for every soul he touches.

So, what made this tough, stubborn Italian change from the way he lived before? A spiritual awakening? What triggered such an urgent need for change? I think the answer is simple: Robert got tired of being sick and tired. He needed to change, and he found his answer in spirituality and inner peace.

You have to read his book to learn the principles that helped him to find happiness and ease, and also tripled the revenue of his real estate business. From reading this book, everyone can find something that is totally unique to them, to their own business and social affairs.

The ideas in Robert’s book with which I most identified were:

You don’t have to serve a life sentence for making mistakes.
True. It’s never too late to say “I am sorry.”

The person you judge becomes a mirror, so you can see yourself.

I had to find the way of doing things that would let everyone win.
My favorite entrepreneurs of all times, Steve Jobs, once said, Apple didn’t have to win so that Microsoft would lose, Apple is not Microsoft.

Allowing myself to be vulnerable enabled me to connect with the divine soul in front of me, as my teacher.

And my favorite: Higher altitude brings clear sky and serenity.

              Fly higher! Namaste! ("The Spirit within Me salutes the Spirit in You")

P.S. To find out how Robert got out of his emergency situation in Malaysia and whether he completed his childhood dream of flying around the world, please visit his website.

Robert DeLaurentis’ second book, “Zen Pilot,” will be available on Amazon soon.
To follow his courageous journey and more adventurous trips, sign up for his newsletter here

Photos are courtesy and Robert DeLaurentis

You can find more blogs on my LinkedIn page , Follow me on Twitter @NatashaJuhasz 


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you Daniel, glad you liked the story!

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