January 17, 2013

When one man was fulfilling a life-long desire to fly, he had an interesting experience which caused him to appreciate the so-called learning curve. All during pilot-training one summer as he went enthusiastically out to the small airfield to have his lesson, he sensed that his progress seemed slower than others he observed. He began to worry that he would never master the art of flying.

One day he asked his instructor if he was doing as well as he should be. The instructor replied, “Some people learn rapidly whileothers take much longer.” The man’s heart began to sink. Then the instructor squinted at the horizon for a moment and said, “I never have paid much attention to the speed at which people learn. In fact, some of the fastest learners have turned out to be rather poor pilots.”

What made good pilots, according to the instructor, was not speed in learning, it was the presence of two key factors:

(1) The ability to be mentally in front of the airplane so as to anticipate problems before they happen, and (2) the ability to recognizemistakes and correct them.

There appears to be some significant wisdom in that formula that can be applied to a lot of things that have nothing to do with flying. There is a lot to be said about thinking ahead and getting in front of what might happen–that is, to anticipate.

It would likely be profitable to anticipate potential mistakes and avoid them if possible. The biggest mistake of all is to fail to acknowledge mistakes when they do occur because they provide a golden opportunity to learn something.

Not bad advice. In fact, perhaps it is “the only way to fly.”