....and why now?
HDClarity is an e-zine for those wanting to develop more trust, understanding and camaraderie in their work environment, and their life in general. A smoother running team is a more profitable team. They get things done faster, for less cost. If you'd like to discover methods for reducing struggle, resolving
conflict, improving relationships, or just plain relieving stress, please read on.
can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full
to embrace the present."
|US Air Flight 1549
When the USAir Flight 1549 suddenly lost power on the
January 15th liftoff from New York's
the cabin of the Airbus 320 became very similar to what I experience in a rally
car racing on blind roads at 100+ miles per hour.
There are just two people responsible for the success or
failure of the unfolding scenario. If
ever there was a situation where total trust, understanding and camaraderie
were critical, this was it.
(click on image to hear pilot/control tower dialogue)
We've all seen spectacular news coverage of airplane
crashes. Embedded in our memories are
video clips of United Flight 232, the DC-10 that cartwheeled across the Sioux
City Iowa airport in 1989, or
news of the lone survivor of the Comair Commuter flight from Lexington
KY to Atlanta
in August of 2006. And these images are
burned into our brains obscuring the real data that such an accident causing
fatalities occurs less than once in 16 million flights (you're safer in a
commercial airplane than walking to school in your hometown). Despite this overwhelming data to the
contrary, many of us tend to predict dire consequences and fear for the
worst. It's human nature. It's where FEAR comes from.
Let's look at this situation through the eyes of the people
on the front line. Captain Chesley
Sullenberger and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles.
Quoting Sullenberger after the incident, "It was very quiet
as we worked, my co-pilot and I. We were a team".
Sullenberger's history put him in a good spot to not only survive this
ordeal, but succeed. He is an Air Force
Academy grad who had instructed gliders at the Colorado Springs institution
with 19,000 ours of commercial experience (not to mention his classified hours
in and F-4 during his service years from 1973 - 1980 when he began flying for
USAirways). And as we've all heard, his training put him in excellent position
to maximize this potentially terrorizing moment in aviation history. But how would he have responded if all he
could think about were the video clips of Sioux City style outcomes.
(click on Capt. Sullenberger's picture to see his incredible bio)
What we do with our histories can RULE what we do with our
futures. That RULE can be either beneficial or detrimental. By over-emphasizing horrific
past outcomes, we can easily project them irrationally into our future. We all know "Chicken Little was right. The
sky IS falling" type people. It can paralyze us and keep us from realizing
success at every turn. Fear is the
irrational projection of unsubstantiated negative outcomes based on inaccurate
assessment of past data. Likewise by absorbing accurate data and converting the results to rules that serve us well, we can operate spectacular lives and seem heroic, like Sully Sullenberger.
Whoa, Kim....that's a mouthful!
Well, let's look at it.
We got stung by a bee once when we were 4 years old. Today at age XX we are terrified of bees, yet
there are 75,000 bees in every colony!
(Sorry, I probably just forced some readers inside for the rest of their
We got hung up on a couple of times when making business telephone calls (a reference to the
Catch & Release™ Prospecting E-zine), and irrationally project that failure
repeatedly. This evolves into refraining from making calls for the sake of
securing more business, and hence our future, and, well, can you see how it
make it all come down like a house of cards?
definition of a phobia is a persistent, abnormal, and irrational fear of a
specific thing or situation that compels one to avoid it, despite the awareness
and reassurance that it is not dangerous.
We don't think about these little impediments as phobias,
but they can and do alter our ability to be and do everything we want.
Back to the cockpit of flight 1549. Sullenberger and Skiles have no such
phobias. They know their equipment and
it's abilities. Sullenberger takes
charge of the flight while Skiles (the co-driver....I LOVE the metaphor!) goes
immediately to work trying to get the engines restarted while discussing with
Sullenberger the possibilities of landing at nearby Teterboro airport in New
Jersey. Skiles is clicking through
checklists, firing up a generator that takes the place of power generation from
engines that are no longer running. No
one is thinking about video clips of crashes.
To help the situation, Sullenberger addresses his passengers
preparing them in a quiet assuring voice for an emergency landing. As they approach the water, Skiles training
in the Airbus 320 prods him to hit the switch that seals the underside of the
plane (designed by Airbus for water landings so the plane doesn't swamp and
sink). While situations aren't ideal, no
one in charge is experiencing FEAR. They
are present, operating with complete trust in each other's trained
capabilities, understanding that each other is trained repeatedly to handle any
situation that arises, and experiencing that camaraderie that focuses on the
I am frequently asked if I experience fear when I co-drive
(navigating in the passenger seat of a race car hitting speeds in excess of 100
mph on a one lane gravel road we've never seen before) and I must admit I do
not. My role is that of First Office
Skiles. In order for the team to be
successful there simply aren't any resources to spare on FEAR. I must do my job perfectly or the outcome
will not be pretty....so does the driver....and the mechanic. Trust, understanding and camaraderie at
How does FEAR, that irrational projection of gloom and doom,
affect your team's effectiveness? I'd
love to talk with you about it.
Data vs. Perception
In the 15th century, entrepreneurial ship
captains roamed the docks of Genoa, Italy
looking for crews to sail around the world.
Why do you suppose they had a hard time?
Because everyone knew in those days that the world was flat....you
couldn't sail "around the World", you would fall off the edge and certainly
The New York Times published in October of 1903...
machine which will really fly might be evolved by the combined and continuous
efforts of mathematicians and mechanicians in from one million to ten million
On that very day
Orville and Wilbur Wright began construction of the first airplane which "really
flew" just two months later.
Truth is proved
inaccurate on a daily basis. New data
makes old truths obsolete.
truths, however, seem to us to be immune to this. Our personal truths are sacred. We just "know" what's right and wrong. We just "know" how things should be done. We just inherently vote for the "right"
candidate. Our version of "God" is the
what? My truth is different than
yours! Which one of us is right? In this world of dysfunctional interpersonal
communications, it's this disconnect in personal truths that cause significant
problems. Where's the common ground on
which to base a productive conversation?
Data! Unfiltered data is the
basis of accuracy. All the other stuff
(flat Earth, flying machines, "God", which direction the toilet paper should
roll off the cylinder) are merely
perceptions of accuracy. They are
beliefs constructed from years and years of experiences. But they are perceptions. Accuracy lies in the data, not the
As an example,
John, the CEO and his CFO Stephen, were engaged in yet another of their
legendary spats about where to invest their ever shrinking funds trying to
survive recent business downturns. John
(having arrived at his position through a sales channel) would continually
champion his "truth", that spending available capital on promotion and sales
was the path to success. After all, "we
can't stay in business without new customers", right? Stephen's "truth" was one of conservatism and
preserving cash flow for the purpose of serving existing customers and keeping
them happy and purchasing. Which one was
right? Which one was wrong? How can we end this constant argument which
everyone has heard a dozen times?
History has proven that this argument never ends and there are no
winners. Right and wrong are not
determined, and energy and attitude are sacrificed.
Then one day,
Stephen suggests that he and John go out to dinner. He'd asked their auditor to bring some numbers,
not to prove his point, or disprove John's, but to present and accurate picture
of the situation. In this economy, the
auditor proved, clients weren't abandoning old alliances, and attracting new
ones would cost 17% more today than it did a year ago. That meant that keeping the old ones was
actually going to be easier (since customers weren't leaving old vendors). Out of
this data comparison, entered into openly by both John and Stephen, under the
bright light of accurate data, a third possibility was explored and
pursued. They spent this shrinking
available capital on development of a new product which they could sell to
their current clients (thus improving cash flow), and that would position them
strongly to capture new clients as the economy recovered.
When it was
discovered that the accurate data didn't support either John's or Stephen's
theses, they both saw the problem without the cloud of their own personal
"truths" and creative new ideas flowed.
None of my above
arguments, of course, is necessarily accurate. They are my opinions, and therefore my truths. But it is my experience that exploring
unfiltered, unprejudiced data is the common ground from which incredible
creativity and productivity can emerge.
The key is accurate
data, not agendized concepts, or spun numbers.
Get present. Today. It's your choice.
Power of NO, Corporate CoDriver