I remember one of those moments in life that you cannot predict. I pursued my pilots license several years back. Most of the training I received was preparing me for what can go wrong or get in the way of reaching my destination. For those of you have been in a small two or four seat aircraft, Cessna, Piper, or Tomahawk, you will relate to how small those planes actually are inside. There are two seats up front with the pilot seat on the left and the door rubbing against the pilot’s left leg. The passenger is on the right with one leg touching the pilot and the other touching the right door. These planes are not made for comfort or for those who are claustrophobic.
Now, I am not claustrophobic but I am however, afraid of heights. So you may be asking, “What the hell are you doing flying a plane for then?” Not to worry, I am not nervous in a plane where I am closed in with windows and doors, it is only standing on the edge of a cliff (open air heights) that makes me dizzy.
Now, when everything is going smoothly, the plane almost flies itself. Flight training is mostly for anticipating and being prepared for the unexpected.
for the unexpected.
I had prepared through my training for overcoming obstacles such as losing power or instrument failure and how to land in a field if necessary, losing radio contact, bad weather, and how to make appropriate adjustments along the flight path to keep on course and/or land safely. But, I had not prepared for my door flying open during take-off. Yikes! I am unexpectedly looking straight down 1,000 feet at the ground (remember, the door touches my left leg and now its not). Everything in me wanted to lose it and scream, “I give up!”
Still, I remembered what my flight instructor always said, “Sherri, fly the plane first or nothing else matters.” That helped me to focus on what mattered most…flying the plane. Look out the window and don’t hit a bird or another plane. Looking at my map, talking on the radio, and closing my door, which all seem important and/or urgent at the time, all of them come second to flying the plane.
Do What You Were Hired to Do
I share this story because the advice is perfect for business as well. When things (clutter – such as paperwork, meetings, emails, phone calls, etc.) start piling up and getting in the way of what is important, remember to “fly the plane first.” Do what you were hired to do, or nothing else matters. Casey Stengel of the NY Mets would say, “The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.”