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Crisis Management: Navigating Past a Complete Fallout

Posted on: Apr 01, 2015 - 04:00 AM | General | Comments (0)
Author: Dru Babcock

I am a professional Airline Transport Pilot and a seasoned Flight Instructor, and I have found some very valuable insights from my extensive experiences in the air. For starters: Your business and personal life are exactly like flying an airplane.

What do pilots do when we have an emergency? The number one rule of emergencies: Stop screaming. It’s that simple. Ha ha!

Then, follow these steps:

  1. Get Situational Awareness (S.A.); start by figuring out where you are now.
  2. Decide which outcome you want.
  3. Create a plan to achieve the outcome.
  4. Follow the plan (take action!).
  5. Evaluate your progress.
  6. Repeat these steps until you are at your destination.

More Specifically:

Less experienced pilots (and all people) get themselves into an emergency situation because somewhere in the past, we lost our situational awareness (S.A.) and didn’t realize that there was a hazard coming across our path in the future. And then, when it happens, it seems like a surprise. But most likely, it was completely predictable and preventable if we would have been aware that it could happen, and we could have known what to do before it was a problem (or a critical emergency).

So, my friends, the real answer to this one is that you must prepare for emergencies before they happen. You don’t ever want to get in a situation where you are "screaming" and making decisions based in fear. That will get you in big trouble.

Just like professional pilots do, you should have a flight plan before you take off. A flight plan helps you visualize beforehand, the outcomes (or destination), and the checkpoints along the way. This sounds a lot like a business plan, where you have financial statements and projections of profit and a strategy to achieve your mission. A flight plan always allow for things to come up, like unexpected poor weather at the destination, or strong headwinds en-route. And we always calculate in fuel reserves and have an alternate airport destination in mind before we take off. And as far as flying the airplane goes (your business or your life), we get outstanding training with our equipment and systems before we fly solo, and we know the performance characteristics and abilities of our equipment; there is no guesswork going on here. Some things you just have to know cold before you get airborne. But you don’t have to know everything; just 80 percent of it...

Pilots use what we call "Flows"; this is a procedure (a sequence of actions: like pushing buttons, setting power, extending the landing gear, etc...) which get a desired outcome, and we memorize them. We use "flows" to operate a complex machine, so that we are quick and efficient, and nothing gets missed or left out. And because it’s so important (that nothing gets left out), we then use a "checklist" to back up our "flows". Checklists are a "no-brainer"; you just have to read them and verify that everything is complete and then you don’t ever worry that you missed something.; they take the pressure off and fear vaporizes! Then your consciousness is free to handle everything else that is happening in the cockpit. When this happens, flying is a fun experience; and no worries!

So, you ask: "what to do when you find yourself in an actual emergency or crisis?" The answer is the same: Prepare beforehand. Know your emergency procedures cold. There should be no guessing or hesitation in handling an emergency situation. You just have to know what can go wrong beforehand and know the antidote(s). Then all you have to do is take action and remedy the problem.

And it’s OK to make mistakes, but what you want to do is make small, recoverable mistakes, not catastrophic, big mistakes. When you are learning how to fly (or run a business, etc...), it is your job to make mistakes. How would you learn anything without making mistakes? It’s my humble opinion that you can only get experience from making mistakes (and sometimes recoverable failures). So, expect the best and be prepared that you will make mistakes along the way. It’s OK! Nobody is perfect! You will get more proficient and confident as you gain more experience. And you will make it to your destination on time: Believe it!

Also, You get what you expect and you achieve what you focus on.

What most people do when they have a problem is this: they focus on the problem. They put all or most of their attention (and resources) on the problem and focus on the perception that there is a problem. And they forget that they are "flying an airplane", and they stop flying the plane. But if you are flying a plane; can you stop? Or press the "pause" button? NO! And then of-course, it gets worse... and then worse after that! Has this happened to someone you know?

The antidote to this situation is: to know your outcome and to focus on the solution. This helps us to stay resourceful and to navigate to where we want to go, not the other option. As an airborne pilot, you have no choice but to focus on the solution (getting that airplane on the ground, safely). When you can live at this level of personal accountability, things tend to go your way regularly. If you don’t believe me, try a "Discovery"/ "Introductory" flight (where you actually go to a flight school and fly a plane with an experienced instructor) and you will experience this phenomenon without the risks of being a test pilot, because you will have a flight instructor onboard who knows what is going to happen ahead of time.

And you say, "But what do I do if I am actually in a crisis right NOW and I don’t know what to do?"

The answer is: Get in contact with an outstanding coach; perhaps someone who can facilitate you in troubleshooting your problem and put a fix in place; get stabilized. Surely if you have time to call or email someone, it’s not as critical as being in an airborne distress situation, all by yourself. Even then, pilots declare an emergency and call air traffic control with a "Mayday" call, and it almost always works out for the better. You don’t usually hear about near-catastrophies, because the outcome is positive. It’s amazing; the results that come when you reach out to people that you know you can count on. We’re here for you, and we are effective because we are removed from the crisis, and we have extensive training and can think clearly and objectively...

If you are interested in taking the next step please call us for a free discovery session.


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