Minutes 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.