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On The Record: Ex-fighter Pilot, Exec Now Coaches People to Find Direction and Energy


By Michael Tomberlin -- The Birmingham News

As a former Marine fighter pilot and former executive with a successful Birmingham company, Bruce Bright does not lack confidence.

He now wants to instill confidence in others through his new company, On Target Leading, which offers life coaching, business consulting and motivational speaking services to individuals and companies.

"So many people out there are just shooting in the dark," Bright said. "They're running to make things meet and they're not making ends meet."

Bright started the company in January and works with everyone from corporate executives to parents and couples.

"I've always wanted to help folks," he said. "Just like I did in the United States Marine Corps, I get joy out of seeing people succeed. The idea is to help them get clear, help them find the direction they want and help them find the energy to get there."

Michael Bell, co-founder and principal with the Modern Brand Co., said Bright has been helpful since he became his coach in January.

"I had just gone through a divorce and one of my business partners had just left my company," he said. "I knew I was seeking direction in life, but I didn't know how to find it on my own. Through weekly coaching sessions with Bruce, I found the balance that my life was lacking and I truly defined goals for myself both personally and professionally."

Bright answered questions about what it means to be a life coach.


Occupation: CEO ("Chief Energy Officer") of On Target Leading

Education: Bachelor's degree in education from Middle Tennessee State University; certified commercial investment member designation; numerous military and flight schools, including a Master of Strategic Studies from the Air War College; certified professional life coach.

Notable: Spent 28 years in the U.S. Marine Corp. before retiring as a lieutenant colonel, then worked for football legend Bart Starr at the Sanders Trust for three years before forming his own company in January.

Q. What's the significance of the name of your company, On Target Leading?

A. I'm a former fighter pilot who dropped many bombs. Getting someone's life on target is important and it ties into what I did. Everything I do is centered around being the best leader you can be, and it starts with leading yourself. Once the individual is leading themselves like they want to, then we expand it to those who are around us. It can be a family with parents leading children, it could be a CEO leading a big corporation, it could be a small business owner or it could be a couple in a relationship. I've got clients in all of those categories.

The idea behind my coaching process is to lower the stress, lower the conflict and increasing the fulfillment. I do that by helping people find direction. I use the compass as metaphor quite a bit.

Q. Are there universal issues or is every client different?

A. There is a universal problem, it's called "catabolism," and that's the negative energy in America. It is all about energy. Think about the things that drain you in life. If I can help a client remove as much of that catabolic or negative energy from their life as possible, they've got to succeed because you can only replace it with one thing, and that's positive energy.

Communications between generations is also important. There are probably four generations working in most large companies. You can have superstars in each of those generation, but if the generations can't communicate among themselves, the company is not a superstar company.

Q. Does the economy have an effect on your company?

A. It actually helps my business because in today's economy margins are thin. If I can help a company increase their ROI (return on investment) just a tad -- and if you can raise the energy level of your company just a little, you're ROI will go way up. A CEO or small business owner who feels overwhelmed and is frustrated with employees and frustrated with employees, they feel like they can't take care of everything. If I can go in and lower the stress, lower the conflict and get the vendors on board with what you're trying to accomplish, most company owners will say if I can make that happen, that would be great. Well, if you do those things, the ROI goes up. That's just what happens.

Q. Are there companies that are too broke to fix?

A. Not in my mind. Being a turnaround agent -- and that's one thing I consider myself to be -- as long as the company is willing to work at it, I don't think there is any company that can't turn it around. I'm not a "fix it" man. The company has to be willing to put in the hard work. From a standpoint of what I teach and what I coach, any company or any relationship can be repaired. There are CEOs and owners and middle managers who do a fabulous job at work, but they don't have the same relationships at home. This process will help them mimic that successful work relationship to a successful home relationship.

It is a trend. I've had individuals hire me to work with their company and end up hiring me to work with their life outside of work. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the same things that work

Q. Do you have a coach?

A. I do. I began working with my coach about two years ago. I would never recommend someone have a coach if I didn't have one. It's changed the way I live and it's changed what I do for a living.

A certified professional coach asks the right questions. I become an accountability partner. I'm a win-win coach. Take a sports coach like Coach Nick Saban. He's a win-lose coach. Which is fine because he wants to win football games and he wants the opponents to lose. Pres. Ronald Reagan said on national television his plan was for America to win and the Soviets to lose. I love that. He needed to have a win-lose approach.

A professional coach mostly looks to the future without a lot of concern about the past. We work on how to be successful from today forward. A therapist mostly deals in the past. A therapist is fine if that's what you need or you want. A professional coach has no agenda other than the client's agenda.


On Target Leading has created our own proprietary coaching program called E4Life. Within this 12-month program we teach individuals, teams and organizations the power of having a balanced life.

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Address 1736 Oxmoor Road, Suite 208 | Birmingham, AL 35209

Email info@ontargetleading.com

Phone (205) 803-3612