Years ago I read an article in a magazine that has given me a “guiding concept” for the rest of my life. It was written by a fighter pilot who was explaining the process by which he had been trained. I was fascinated as I read the story. The author explained how the majority of his training was focused on what could go wrong. Although much attention was also given to learning how to do things right, that was not the main focus. He had to constantly be aware of the unlimited number of variables that could go wrong as he flew his plane. He had to consider what to do in case there was a fire on board, or in case of an emergency that would force him to eject from his seat. He had to always be aware that he was flying with high-powered missiles on board that could potentially explode at any moment. In addition to that, there was also the challenge of a possible enemy attack while he was in flight. He went into great detail as to all the possible things that could go wrong. Then, at the end of the article, he concluded by saying that he was grateful that he had been trained in that manner because, although he never had to use any of those tips, he was prepared for any situation that arose. He always felt safe because he knew his options if things went wrong.
This pilot went on to talk about how in life, in business, and in relationships, we have very little training in how to handle what could go wrong. We tend to focus on how wonderful we expect things to be. However, for those of us who have experienced life long enough, we have learned that some things can, and will go wrong, in business or in relationships. Unfortunately, there is very little training that we receive prior to the time things go wrong or in how to avoid trouble in the first place. Therefore, we often panic. You see, it is natural to panic when you are not prepared.
I am amazed when I stop to think about what takes place in an average day in my life. Although there are many things that go right and are very wonderful, there are usually several surprises. But, because I read that article years ago, I have trained my mind to daily look for the endless possibilities of what might go wrong. Fortunately, it has not created a negative attitude in me or caused me to look at the “dark” side of life. Rather, it has caused me to develop a positive attitude and look at the “what if” side of life. Because I am aware that there is potential danger involved in business and personal relationships, it has caused me to be more careful as I travel on the road of life.
Think about the last situation that you were involved in that completely caught you off guard. Did you have any training to prepare you beforehand? Had you ever been warned that the possibility could exist? Had you ever considered that what you thought was such a wonderful situation could turn sour so quickly? Again, this is not to be negative or discouraging. It is just a fact. If we learn to look for the possible dangers that are in life, we will be much more prepared when they unexpectedly appear.
We have all heard of the ostrich who sticks his head in the sand because he does not want anyone to see him. Yet, 95% of him is still exposed. We can stick our head in the sand if we want to, but, challenges are all still going to come our way.
Let me encourage you to look more closely at the wonderful situations in which you now find yourself. Ask yourself what possibly could go wrong. Don’t do it in a way that makes you feel negative, discouraged or bitter. Instead, look at it to see how you could be aware of danger approaching and what you could do to protect the situation.
Again, I am grateful for the article I read so many years ago. It has built in me a mindset of being proactive when it comes to the possibility of things going wrong or falling apart. I want to fly my life as a successful pilot and the only way I can do that is be aware of the possible dangers that are out there. It makes the trip a whole lot more enjoyable!
Tip: Think like a fighter pilot!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Robert A. Rohm, Ph.D.