The Husky is now in its winter hangar and we dislike having to drive so far to enjoy flying Fire Horse. The hangar is dark and cold but the runway is long and plowed, so it’s the responsible thing to do. Good judgment is smart!
Most of us have an intuitive understanding of danger, hard-wired as we are to avoid loss or the possibility of loss. That can be a good thing unless it unreasonably restricts what we might otherwise safely enjoy or when the fear itself is larger than fact.
How real is the danger?
Basic risk management involves recognizing the true nature of a threat: Listen to instinct; know what’s happened to others; train for it and preplan. Then compare the potential cost to the potential benefit; do it formally or informally, but do it.
Know your personal style
This seems on its surface to be only about piloting but for almost forty years aviation management practice has been making its way into the board room, operating rooms, and into the family circle. It began with a tragic accident.
In 1977 on Tenerife in the Canary Islands two fully loaded 747s careened into history when they collided on the runway. This deadliest of accidents was the final link in a chain of irony, confusion, coincidence, and bad luck. From it grew the NASA training program that pilots know as crew resource management and business professionals recognize as participative management and employee involvement. The FAA now introduces pilots to their own dangerous attitudes with the chance to modify them before they result in an incident or accident.
Smart people doing dumb things
As a passenger you might fear equipment malfunction or violent weather, but most aviation accidents are entirely avoidable if you address failures of communication, leadership and decision-making that cause them. In other words the path to most accidents starts before the prop ever turns. Stick with me here because the same dangerous attitudes can also ruin your business or your family. Life has costs, potential legal and liability hazards, financial pressures, human factors, public relations challenges, technical breakdowns, emotional facets, operational perils, and more. What you believe turns into how you act and that can create danger. Know yourself to manage that risk, the first step to improving how you interact with the most important people in your life.
Five Hazardous Attitudes
As pilots we’re taught to identify dangerous thinking along with a prescription for each to avoid trouble before it starts. Do you recognize any of these in yourself?
- Anti-authority: rejects advice, doesn’t follow the rules, and is proud of being a non-conformist—better to listen to the voice of experience or remember that the rules are there for a reason.
- Impulsivity: acts first, thinks later—slow down and think before you act;
- Invulnerabiity: believes it can’t happen to him or her, that they carry a special shield of invincibility—remember that the worst really can happen to them;
- Machismo: is the show-off, the pilot who declares, “If you think that’s good, watch this!” And yes, it’s not just men but women too—in the interests of safety and responsibility substitute pride in following guidelines and obeying rules;
- Resignation: gives up too easily when confronting a challenge and is willing to leave it to fate—be like The Little Engine That Could and say instead, “I won’t give up. I can do this!”
Never risk a higher value for something of lesser worth!
Attitudes like these may cause less dramatic or violent outcomes, but they also result in loss of respect and opportunity. Cut corners, hurt feelings, lack of respect for others, arrogance, self-importance, failure to anticipate unintended consequences–they break other things that could help us run more successful businesses, have happier families, or live more satisfying lives.
Make every risk to benefit trade count! Among the greatest treasures of life are interpersonal peace, personal pride, getting the most from effort spent, earning respect, enjoying life, gaining happiness, having a loving home. Let’s be smart and don’t trade them for anything that’s less valuable.
Wishing you wind beneath your wings
John Skattum in this month’s Air Facts Journal says you know you’re a pilot when you start pre-flighting your car. It’s true! But flying isn’t the only way to learn good management practices about the rest of your life; if it’s not flying, find something that works for you. As for me, I’ll always choose safety over convenience. The hangar may be dark and cold but the runway is long and plowed. Spring will come!