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Lessons from flying – How flying educated my approach at work

As I started thinking about this blog, in the mysterious non-linear ways that our minds works, mine recalled the book that I read a couple of years back. It was ‘Checklist Manifesto’ by Atul Gawande. I loved that book, not just for its simplicity and elegance of presenting ideas, but also for the fact that it drew its inspiration from the field of aviation.

I am an aviator. And it never struck me earlier that being up in the air is not unlike trying to make a success of a venture. Bear with me. Let me explain.

When you are up in the air everything is at stake. You cannot afford to make a mistake. Gravity and physics and weather and laws of nature are all conspiring to bring you down.

Your knowledge of aerodynamics, of your plane, your training, your experience and your team are what help you stay up. And if you use them well, you enjoy the exhilaration of flight instead of being nervous and tentative.

So also when you seek success in a new venture. The changing environment, evolving technologies, your competitors are all ranged against you. Your technology, product, adaptability, and your team are what help you succeed. If you marshal your resources well, you enjoy the trip to success.

This blog will be trying to recruit you on my team. Just like the air traffic controllers and other pilots are part of my team when I am flying. Controllers provide guidance and collision avoidance advice. Other pilots in the air provide help like heads up about weather that they are seeing outside their cockpits; a Pilot Report, a PIREP. PIREPs can save your bacon. Like the time it saved mine when I was flying to Cuba and Reinhold – a fellow pilot, flying 5 minutes ahead called in with a thunderstorm warning that helped me avoid what would have been a close call. I promise to tell that story sometime.

I hope that as I recruit you to my team, you will chime in with your thoughts like Reinhold did and I will glean ‘disaster avoidance wisdom’ from them.




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