Posts Tagged ‘Aviation’

Leader driven Harmony #9: Don’t Be a Baby Bird (Part I)

by Mack McKinney on January 28, 2011

Have you ever watched birds feed their babies in the nest?  As the parent bird swoops in, the baby birds open their beaks and the parent plops a juicy worm or insect right into junior’s gaping mouth.  The baby just sits and eats.  The parent does all the work.

I recently met some people like that:  They were college students headed for careers in medicine.  I subscribe to Science News and there were some medically-oriented articles in the current issue (new theories for brain repair, a new blood component that physicians were concerned about, etc.).  I handed the magazine to one of these young folks and said “look at this”.  I expected a reaction such as “THAT is interesting” or “Wow, how can that be?” or at least “I’ll read that later”.  But instead I got an expressionless gaze and no response at all, followed by the magazine being laid onto an adjacent table.  I asked if the articles were of interest and got a “yea, I guess” answer.  I hope my expression didn’t give me away but I was horrified: A future physician was unmoved by medical news articles that could change the profession forever.  But then I thought back and realized that this has been a common expression from this person whenever I have offered similar magazines or books: Ho hum, I might read that some other time.  But then they don’t.  Not ever.

Bizarre!

Now here is why that seems so bizarre to me:  I am an aviator.  I have been flying since 1983.  I enjoy reading, talking and thinking about all things related to aviation.  Some things interest me more than others but I at least scan EVERYTHING that crosses my path that deals with aviation: civilian, military, airplanes, pilots, radios, radars, airfoils, airspace, weather, legislation, etc.  – – – Everything – – – .  In my bedroom there are seven books partially read (five of them about flying) and about 20 magazines beside the bed (I have flagged articles that I want to copy, things I want to act on, people I want to contact about something, etc.)  I also contribute articles to flying magazines and have several in various stages of completion.  I belong to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and the Experimental Aircraft Association.

I also fly young people (for free) in introductory flights every chance I get, including at fly-days sponsored by the Young Eagles organization. I also fly and maintain our corporate airplane including oil changes, engine tune-ups, minor repairs, refueling, etc.  So there are aircraft maintenance magazines everywhere in our house and in Solid Thinking’s offices and the hangar.  And we live in a residential airpark and I serve on our property owners association’s Board of Directors, so there are government regulations and county runway easement proposals laying on chairs and tables throughout the house this week.  And I am working on my next rating so there are instrument flying study plans on the kitchen table and flight-in-clouds checklists near the potty (I know, TMI).  But wait, there is more!  These aviation-related things are only one of my passions.

There’s more…

I am also a practitioner and teacher of advanced Project Management techniques.  I write and teach courses on the subject and am interested in a number of related areas: how to portray complex data in easy-to-grasp ways; ways to get engineers, scientists, program managers, marketers and other disciplines to collaborate on project teams; and ways to get Generation Y-ers, Generation X-ers and Baby Boomers to stop sniping at each other and come together on project teams.  I have just finished reading four books on that last subject and plan to write one this spring with my friend and colleague Ken Pardoe.  I have begun teaching advanced collaboration techniques in our Project Dominance courses so I have notes and articles on that topic laying all around the house.

So what?  Big deal.  Are you asking “What does that have to do with me, or with baby birds?”  Next week I’ll tell you.  And it will probably scare the crap out of you.  And if it doesn’t, THAT will scare the crap out of me!

Copyright: Solid Thinking Corp.

Mack McKinneyMack McKinney is on a personal crusade to eliminate conflict and stress in our lives. Mack’s mantra is “People treat you like you TRAIN them to treat you!” His company Solid Thinking Corporation teaches creativity, concept development, relationship management and high-performance project leadership to major US corporations and the US government
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Leader driven Harmony #6: Failure is required (Part I)

by Mack McKinney on January 7, 2011

Failure is Required!

If any of the following is true about you, you are in danger:

  • Your parents worried a lot about your self-image when you were growing up, so you got lots of encouragement
  • Your parents helped you with homework and projects so you could get a better grade or win the grand prize (and you often did!)
  • Everyone on your sports teams got a trophy for something (best helper, trying the hardest, etc.) so nobody would feel left out at awards banquets
  • Your parents set you up in your first business(es) and made all the tough decisions for you so you wouldn’t fail

These actions by loving, caring parents and coaches and teachers throughout the 80s and 90s have inadvertently helped create a generation of emotionally-dependent Generation-Y people (aka Gen-Yers or “Millennials”).  If you grew up during this time, you are likely affected.  But the condition can be corrected and no surgery is needed.  You just have to fail at a few things and you’ll be OK.  But you need to carefully choose the things at which you might fail (sounds bizarre, doesn’t it?).

In his outstanding book “Outliers” Malcolm Gladwell talks about his discovery that seasoned professionals (airline pilots, doctors, etc.) don’t really get good at their craft until they have accumulated roughly 10,000 hours doing it!  That is the equivalent of 5 years of five-day weeks, 8 hours each day.  And you can bet that, hidden in those hours are many successes and many failures.  Let’s look at just one profession, aircraft pilot, and talk about the training possibilities and we’ll look at two types of students:  those allowed to make mistakes and those prevented from making mistakes.  We’ll then compare the training they get with the way YOU have been treated by your teachers, coaches and parents and show you why that puts you in danger of being a failure in life!

When you learn to fly, your instructor’s technique is absolutely crucial in preparing you for the real world of safely flying an aircraft around the sky, navigating from place to place and talking to controllers and other pilots.  Most flight instructors, military and civilian, use a combination of teaching techniques, pushing students when their proficiency permits, allowing students to make small mistakes and learn from them, etc.  But unfortunately there are also two extreme teaching styles that we should avoid:

  1. The “Nanny Instructor” who intervenes constantly and prevents the student from making any mistakes
  2. The “Deep End Instructor” who teaches flying like some people teach swimming:  throw the student in the deep end of the pool and don’t intervene unless they are about to die.

We will leave the “Deep End Instructor” discussion for another day.  But a quick examination of the “Nanny Instructor” and a comparison to some parents and teachers and coaches, is interesting.  First, what do we see when students trained by Nanny Instructors finish their training?

  • They are not Prepared. Since they have not been allowed to make many mistakes and have a tiny mistake insidiously multiply into bigger mistakes, they are not prepared when that happens to them when flying alone.  So they are not prepared for many things that can go wrong in the air but more importantly they are not mentally prepared with the confidence they will need to think through the completely unexpected problems they will sometimes face.  If all mistakes are preceded by the instructor saying “now be careful – – – your airspeed is dropping” or “now the needle is moving so let’s start our turn to the runway” then the student will never hear the stall horn on approach (scaring the crap out of you as it warns of an impending, possibly deadly approach stall).  And the student will never have the scary experience of flying through the course to the runway and having to then figure out exactly where he is and then remember that he hasn’t started his descent on time and then overflying the runway and having to call the controller and embarrassingly ask for another approach.
  • They Panic: These students are more likely to panic when a series of problems hits them in rapid-fire succession because they have not been allowed to see those big problems develop in training because the instructor always intervened.  Unfortunately, panic can cause the brain to almost shut down, often leading to fatal mistakes (the aircraft crash of Robert Kennedy Jr. comes to mind).

In the next post we will show how YOU may be like my pilot friend John, who could have killed himself had it not been for the excellent training he had received.  We’ll also see if YOU are in danger because people have NOT let you fail sufficiently as you grew up and why you now may be perfectly set-up to fail big-time in your life. It is like an earthquake:  experts don’t worry about the geologic fault zones that rumble and shake frequently because those faults are releasing energy all the time.  Instead they worry about the quiet fault lines, where pent-up energy is increasing and could let go with catastrophic effect.   Are YOU that pending earthquake?  Are you being unknowingly set-up, by well-meaning family and friends, for a major failure?  And if you are, what can you do about it?  We’ll show you in the next post.

Copyright: Solid Thinking Corporation

Mack McKinneyMack McKinney is on a personal crusade to eliminate conflict and stress in our lives. Mack’s mantra is “People treat you like you TRAIN them to treat you!” His company Solid Thinking Corporation teaches creativity, concept development, relationship management and high-performance project leadership to major US corporations and the US government
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