Some years ago, I wrote an article about how airline pilots utilize and apply certain success principles in the cockpit. These timeless principles are what contribute to a successful, safe operation, day in and day out, where countless lives are at stake.
To summarize, it takes a lot to successfully fly a commercial airplane, more than just stick and rudder skills. The discipline, education, training, confidence, competence, people skills, conflict resolution skills, organization skills, along with a lot of other traits combined, is what’s required to be successful.
The good news is, these principles, I like to call, “The Right Stuff” principles, learned and utilized on a regular basis, over time, can be applied to everything we do in life. The question is, what if we approached business and life using these principles, would we have different results? The answer is yes!
As an Airline Pilot and Realtor, I apply these principles on a regular basis up in the air and on the ground. They work but have to be applied consistently, over time.
Although these may seem like common sense, basic principles, you would be surprised how many people don’t adopt them.
The following are powerful, life changing leadership thoughts and principles to help build the “Right Stuff”:
ATTITUDE– Attitude is everything. No matter the circumstances, have a great attitude. A great attitude is contagious. In the cockpit, the proper attitude is not only essential to safety, but guarantees that everyone enjoys working with others and makes for a pleasant work environment. Always strive to have a great attitude in everything you do. It will shine at home and at work!
TRUST– Trust is earned. Do the right thing, be predictable, open and honest. Those who trust you, will listen and follow you. In the cockpit, we trust our lives in the hands of our fellow co-workers. Over time, the level of trust you have with someone helps build a great relationship. Blind trust may be required initially, until proven otherwise but trusting others takes time. Breaking someone’s trust can happen instantly. Be careful not to ever do anything to compromise that trust.
INTEGRITY and CHARACTER- Integrity is defined as:
‘The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. It is generally a personal choice to uphold oneself to consistently moral and ethical standards. In ethics, integrity is regarded by many people as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one’s actions’.
Integrity is a critical attribute for success, but a person can have integrity and still not have character. Integrity is not doing wrong, while character is doing what is right, because it’s the right thing to do. A person with character refuses to surrender their principles no matter what, understanding that it is more important than comfort or reputation. Character is more than just what a person says or does; its who a person is. Someone that displays both character and integrity, gain and earn trust among their fellow co-workers and that helps guarantee success.
COMMUNICATION SKILLS– Although a basic principle, good communication cannot be over emphasized. Verbal communication is only a small percentage of the equation. Proper body language and clear, concise communication, helps minimize misunderstandings. In the cockpit, communication is vital. Crew members not only communicate via radio, but with fellow co-workers and customers. Understanding and learning different personality types helps to communicate better. Learn some of the barriers to communication and be prepared to implement new ways to communicate your thoughts, ideas, opinions or intentions.
CONFLICT RESOLUTION SKILLS– You cannot go through life without conflict. Learning how to deal with conflict is critical to your success in both your personal and professional life. There are many dynamics to learning how to resolve conflict but once you do learn how, you will be amazed at the result. In the book, “Resolved- 13 Resolutions for Life”, Written by Leadership guru, Orrin Woodward, he teaches the 5 steps to conflict resolution. Affirm the relationship, seek to understand, seek to be understood, own responsibility by apologizing and seek agreement.
Crew members have to deal with conflict everyday and our ability to resolve these conflicts quickly, are vital to safety and good decision making. Mastering Conflict resolution is worth achieving. Focusing on team work, win-win outcomes to achieve a common goal, will help you succeed.
DECISION MAKING SKILLS– Knowing that the decisions we make on a second by second basis, affect the outcome of the situation, means that how we make decisions is important. Crew members have been trained on how to make decisions based on multiple factors. We can learn and apply how to make decisions to our personal and business life.
ADAPTABILITY– We must learn to be adaptable. Change is the only constant in life and the ability to expect change, while having an alternate plan, is important. The ability to adapt and overcome to any situation is critical to success. In the cockpit, weather or environmental changes, emergencies or unexpected occurrences require crew members to be adaptable and to make the best of the situation.
SYSTEMS THINKING– Theodore Levitt said, “ Discretion is the enemy of order, standardization and quality.” In other words, discretion is the enemy of duplication. We must learn to think in a systematic manner. Systematic thinking is the best way to achieve a specific goal or result. Learning to follow a pattern or proven model is important. All successful business models have learned systems thinking.
On a personal level, discipline yourself to learn, read, grow, write down goals, and be consistent. Consistency and focus over time will help you accomplish your goals. In the cockpit, pilots have been systematically conditioned to operate a flight from Point A to B and to handle any situation or emergency through proper training and use of checklists. Duplication, standardization and predictability are crucial, not only for your customers but for your co-workers. Finding what works and applying what works consistently, is vital to long term success in any organization.
BEING A TEAM PLAYER and DEVELOPING LEADERSHIP SKILLS– Working together as a team is critical to the outcome of your business, project or relationship. In the cockpit, it is an essential part of safety. The Captain, First Officer and cabin Crew of today’s airline, must work with each other effectively by utilizing what is called CRM, or crew resource management, to achieve success. The Captain of an airline sets the tone as the leader but the other crew members can equally set the tone as team players, willing to give 100 percent of their collective efforts to accomplish the best job they possibly can.
Part of becoming a better leader is learning how to become a better team player and work as a team to accomplish a common goal.
Developing Leadership skills and focusing to personal development is a long term commitment and not for the faint of heart. Best selling author Chris Brady said, “ Everyone will be called upon to lead. The question is, will they be ready?” There are many ways to learn leadership skills. The question is, will you do what is necessary to succeed? What if you are already successful and possess Leadership traits and skills?
Learning and growing is a life long process. We must strive to get better everyday. It is better to be reminded that taught so maintaining a personal development program is important. What does that mean? It could mean as little as 15 minutes a day of reading or listening to audios from successful people. In life, your success depends on what you read and the people you associate with. If you want to be successful, find a mentor and learn true success principles from those who have already blazed the trail of success.
CONSISTENCY– Being consistent helps to build great habits. Consistency helps us to form a discipline to do the right things long enough to achieve success. In the cockpit, pilots do their best to be ‘ Standardized’ , so that we do the same things consistently, which produces a predictable outcome. Sometimes pilots have to adapt to an unusual situation but remaining consistent in how we deal with that situation is what makes the difference. The other part of consistency is being consistent with others helps to build trust and better communication. If you are a hot head and let emotions dictate your actions, or react or respond differently to different situations, those around you will find it difficult to be around you.
These are just a few of the ‘Right Stuff’ principles that anyone can apply to their lives. It’s important to note that some of these can be applied immediately, while others take time to develop. It all depends on the individual. Once you apply these principles and remain consistent over time, there is nothing you cannot achieve. Just like an airplane on takeoff – It takes a good portion of runway to gain enough speed to lift off. Leadership training and personal development are like the engines on a jet; the more efficient and powerful the engines, the faster you can get liftoff speed and be airborne.
When traveling from NY to LA, coast to coast, just a couple of degrees off course could take you to a different destination over time. Little bits of education and application of these principles over time, will set your flight plan for success. You may not be able to change your destination overnight but you can change your direction. Start today and soon enough, you will soar above the clouds and reach your destination. Here’s to your success journey, may the wind be at your back.