The Critical Moment Flight 32 Was Saved From Disaster- And The Message For Our Lives (In My Case, 40 Years Too Late)

Crespigny-4Minutes after a Qantas Flight 32 engine exploded, and with the plane on the edge of disaster, the pilot suddenly broke all the rules. His mindset shift saved the plane, and provides a powerful message for how we approach our lives and careers. I wish I’d heard it 40 years ago as a young shaver. It would have prevented big anxiety, pain and missed opportunity. Here is this beautiful insight.

Captain Richard Champion de Crespigny was on radio this week, talking about a charity which helps disabled children learn to ski. “Hmmmm,” I mused. “Wonder what the link is here between de Crespigny and this disabled children story. Why is he the right spokesperson? Sure- he (with a team) saved Qantas Flight 32, but where’s the link?”

“Boom, boom went the two explosions,” de Crespigny explained. “Suddenly, we were experiencing ‘unconditional engine failure’. We followed the process, and immediately worked to identify all malfunctions and aspects of the plane that were not working. The list was unbelievable. It seemed never ending. And then I changed my mindset, broke the rules and took the first step to saving the plane. What I did was this:

“Instead of focusing on what we did not have, I shifted tact- and instead we clarified what we DID have available to us. Once we knew what we had, we could work towards flying the plane to safety….”

And there was the link to the disabled children. Focus on what you DO have, not on what you don’t have. Then use what you’ve got to make progress, move forward, achieve goals, experience new frontiers.

I really, really like this approach. It reminded me of my biggest regret in life… allowing self-doubt and low self-esteem to prevent me from taking risk, having a go, pushing myself forward… to missing out on many experiences and perhaps greater fulfillment because I always feared somehow I was not good enough.

I recall vividly as a younger man the anxiety and longing, always wishing for something: I wanted bigger, smaller, faster, bolder,  thinner, more hair, less fear, better teeth, a flashier car, a different this and a better that. I wished “if only…” that aspect  of me was a bit of this, and that there was a lot less of that. And how great it would be if I had one of those. It would make all the difference. Oh, and I could never ask for that because I sure as hell don’t have enough of this or a big enough that. And so on and so forth!

So What To Do About It?

Not sure. I just really like the attitude. Focus on what you have- not what you don’t have.

I  only heard de Crespigny say this about four days ago. Already I have found myself pausing and changing my mindset gear, from “Woe is me, this particular business does not have….Or “Dammit, I wish I could do that and if only I had…..” to, instead…. “Ok- let’s think rationally. What DOES this business have that is a strength and that we can use to our advantage…” or “Pause Chris- I know if you had a magic wand you’d want that to happen, but you don’t, so stay calm: think- what DO you have going for you in this area, and that you can use to positive benefit….”

Focus on strengths, the wonderful aspects of our lives, the positive elements that we need to be genuinely grateful for. In business, focus on what your company does have going for it, and how to leverage those attributes fast, rather than obsess about the gaps and weaknesses. Same holds true for careers.

It’s a mindset for a happier, bolder life, and faster progress in business and careers. Has to be.

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16 Responses to The Critical Moment Flight 32 Was Saved From Disaster- And The Message For Our Lives (In My Case, 40 Years Too Late)

  1. Caroline July 31, 2013 at 10:08 am #

    Great post – a much nicer way of saying – ‘play the cards you are dealt’.

    • Chris Savage July 31, 2013 at 10:34 am #

      Thanks Caroline!

  2. Lesley July 31, 2013 at 10:15 am #

    Those familiar with the work of Martin Seligman will relate to this blog. Raising special needs children, everyday I’m reminded that leveraging strengths, not focusing on shortcomings pays dividends day after day; and yes, this is as relevant in business as it is in any other part of life.

    • Chris Savage July 31, 2013 at 10:33 am #

      Thanks Lesley. I have always been a big fan of Seligman since I saw him speak about 12 years ago. His approach has had a huge influence on me. Chris

  3. Paul July 31, 2013 at 10:54 am #

    As I get older I am constantly amused and amazed at how much can be achieved (in all areas of life) if you are able to focus.
    I am blessed with the complete inability to remember peoples names, the fastest way home, everyone’s birthday etc: it has been my most conspicuous social inadequacy and my greatest life asset – the magic is in the macro view.

    Great words Chris – thanks.

    • Chris Savage July 31, 2013 at 11:23 am #

      Thanks Paul- agree entirely! By the way, you have also forgotten the $50 you owe me…. (just a joke!)

  4. Chris Day July 31, 2013 at 11:22 am #

    Churchill’s quip comes to mind. “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

    • Chris Savage July 31, 2013 at 11:26 am #

      Thanks Chris!

  5. Paul Murphy July 31, 2013 at 2:33 pm #

    Chris – very apposite comments, just what I needed to hear to recalibrate back to the big picture! Hope you’re well. Paul

    • Chris Savage July 31, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

      Thanks Paul- I am well! Coffee in Melbourne Monday/Tuesday?

  6. JIm Roy July 31, 2013 at 2:53 pm #

    Chris, rings so true – I had a lightbulb moment along these lines years ago…

    I was at a chartered accounting networking event a few years ago with a successful author, Nigel Marsh. He said on the launch of his book (he has just followed up) of Fat, Fired & Forty he made ‘amateur celebrity’ status and thus got invited to various events / parties / PR launches etc.

    At these he met various celebs and several billionaires. People with a billion dollars worth of assets. He was amazed by them, at how no less happy than he was. They still moaned about the weather, their children’s school reports, the Lear Jet that they could not have yet.

    He surmised brilliantly by saying (to a room of accountants) that as they had a profession, they would never go hungry or fail to provide a roof for their family, and if they started out looking at each day that way, they would be a lot happier as people.

    It’s all about what you have.

    • Chris Savage July 31, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

      Thanks Jim- great story and message. Chris

  7. William Masson August 6, 2013 at 6:00 pm #

    This is a great post and great advice. We have tendency (in business and personal) to focus on what we don’t have. The key definitely is to focus on what we have, what our strengths are and build forward from those strengths. Very very sound advice.


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