When you’re first learning how to fly, all of your lessons are learned in clear blue skies. With no bad weather, you can always see the ground below you. “Up” and “down” are obvious.
But at some point in your life as a pilot, you will encounter what is known as instrument flying; flying through the clouds. You can not see the ground below you, and if you’re not watching your instruments, you’ll end up off course, upside down, and barrel into the ground before you ever see it coming. This is known by the NTSB as “controlled flight into terrain,” or “CFIT”.
CFIT kills a lot of pilots.
But it kills even more businesses.
Like aviators, businesses first start flying in sunny skies with their destination, and the ground, in clear view. It’s exhilarating.
But despite the best of intentions, fog will inevitably creep up and our leaders will find themselves off-course, disoriented, not even sure which way to the ground or the sky.
There are three things that will save you at this moment, in airplanes and in business:
- Trusting your instruments
- Trusting your crew
- Putting in the right control inputs to return to straight and level flight
It may scare the hell out of you, but if you’re prepared for the moment, you will live.
Have you recently found yourself flying in the clouds?
- Check your instruments, fast. Where is your true north? Where is up and where is down? In business, these are the values, goals, and convictions that you know you stand for. Keep your eyes glued to these while you’re going through the storm.
- Trust your crew – the people who have a shared stake in landing this thing at the right destination. Share the burden of navigation with them by telling them what you see, and asking them what they see.
- Trust your training – the best pilots and the best leaders NEVER stop training, and that’s what makes them great. Push yourself beyond your comfort level with books, courses, and hopefully, a really good instructor that will pressure you into new skills long before you need them to save your life.
Take a deep breath, captain. You were made for this moment.