My Favorite Mistake — 218: Col. Kim “KC” Campbell on Learning to Let Mistakes Go in Air Force Training, Combat, and Beyond

Episode page with transcript, videos, and more

My guest for Episode #218 of the My Favorite Mistake podcast is Colonel Kim “KC” Campbell, who served in the Air Force for 24 years as a fighter pilot and senior military leader. 

KC has flown 1,800 hours in the A-10 Warthog, including more than 100 combat missions protecting troops on the ground in both Iraq and Afghanistan. 

KC is now a keynote speaker and bestselling author. Her new book, Flying in the Face of Fear: A Fighter Pilot's Lessons on Leading with Courage is now available!

KC is a distinguished graduate of the Air Force Academy and has a Master of Arts in International Security Studies and a MBA from the University of London. 

In 2003, Colonel Campbell was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for Heroism after successfully recovering her battle-damaged airplane after an intense close air support mission in Baghdad. She has served in roles including Squadron Commander, Operations Group Commander and, most recently, KC served as the Director for the Center for Character and Leadership Development at the United States Air Force Academy.

In this episode, KC shares her favorite mistake story about a time her visor fogged up when flying an A-10 Warthog in a training mission. What did she learn from this mistake, including how to let mistakes go — to put them aside and debrief at the right time?

She also discusses almost being shot down over Baghdad — would it have been a mistake to eject? Was it almost a mistake not to?

As she says on her website:

“But how can we improve if we don’t learn from our mistakes?”

Questions and Topics:

  • Learning to stay calm under stress? — learned over time??
  • Kids and sports —- Lenny Walls – Ep 51
  • Learning to stay calm under stress? — learned over time??
  • Distinguished Flying Cross for Heroism
  • Almost being shot down over Baghdad?
  • Debriefing, learning, and moving forward?
  • Planning for contingencies is a way of preventing mistakes…
  • Mistake of ejecting too soon vs. too late?
  • Is this critiqued? For learning?
  • How many women when you became a fighter pilot?
  • Lessons for women navigating male-dominated environments?
  • Debriefing from mistakes as fighter pilots and learning — what’s that culture??? Learning and overcoming them…
  • Question from your video — “Vulnerability isn’t about weakness… it’s about being open to uncertainty” – help your team be willing to be more innovative… try new things… 

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