Is There a Flock of Canadian Geese in Your Future?


US Air Flight 1549 was on its initial climb out of New York’s LaGuardia Airport on its way to Charlotte, North Carolina when, 3 minutes into the flight, it struck a flock of Canadian Geese, causing a complete loss of thrust from both its engines.

In what later came to be known as The Miracle On the Hudson, the crew successfully glided the plane to a landing in the river, safely evacuating all 150 passengers and 5 crew members. Captain Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger was able to calmly and confidently guide his crew and the passengers through this crisis.

Lessons to be Learned from the Miracle On the Hudson

Throughout our lives, many of us will be fortunate enough to not face a crisis of this magnitude. However, regardless of the size of the potential problems we will face, we can can take away several lessons from the actions of Captain Sullenberger and his crew in coping with and coming safely through our personal crises. Here are 5 take-aways we can use.

  1. ANTICIPATION AND PLANNING – Striking a flock of birds and losing engine power is a potentially possible event for an airliner and its crew. So it makes sense that they would document this potential crisis, such as in a crisis checklist, and work through and even practice mitigation. For us, this might mean thinking about what we would do if we lost our jobs, and putting together a plan that included a cushion of 3 to 6 months worth of salary in the form of cash savings to carry our families through while we landed the new job.
  2. DECISION MAKING – When a crisis presents itself, concentrate on the facts, sift through the emotions and drama, seek points of view from Voices of Value, check back to your mitigating strategies, and focus your attention and energy on making the right decision. Captain Sullenberger focused and worked his crew through their checklists in evaluating and deciding what to do.
  3. DECISIVENESS – Once you have made a decision, act decisively to execute your strategy. Captain Sully’s crew first decided to attempt a landing at a nearby airport, then requested and obtained permission to land there. For us, this is all about moving ahead quickly and efficiently, and not neglecting to do the things that are required to exercise our chosen strategy.
  4. FLEXIBILITY – This step involves constantly evaluating how the crisis in unfolding and how well your decisions are working out. It is essential to recognize when a change is needed and a different course is required. Captain Sully and his crew re-evaluated their position, realized that they would not be able to land at the small regional airport, and instantly decided to execute a water landing.
  5. LEADERSHIP – Leadership? Yes! The entire crew of US Airways Flight 1549 lead all the way through the crisis, with Captain Sullenberg setting the overall leadership tone. They refused to be victims. With the right plans, effective decision making, decisiveness, and flexibility, we can and should lead ourselves (and our families, departments, or companies) through the crisis, refusing to become victims.
We can never know with any kind of certainty what our future holds. But we can develop habits and the mindset, including implementing the above 5 lessons, to assist us in surviving what life throws at us. We can get through our own flock of Canadian Geese safely and securely.
How could you have used the 5 lessons to get through some of your past personal crises?

About Enrique Fiallo

I am a Life Coach, Author, and Blogger. I inspire people to succeed in a complicated world, and write about leadership, self improvement and personal development...
This entry was posted in Change, Empowerment, Inspiration, Leadership and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Is There a Flock of Canadian Geese in Your Future?

  1. Pingback: Homepage

  2. Well I definitely enjoyed reading it. This subject provided by you is very helpful for accurate planning.

  3. wood21 says:

    I can’t determine how do I subscribe for your weblog

    • Hi. In Google Reader, press the Subscribe red button, then type in henryfiallo. It will bring up my blog, and you can select and add it to your Reader. Or you can subscribe via email by pressing the FOLLOW button on the top right of the home page of my blog. Thanks!

  4. I don’t commonly comment but I gotta tell thank you for the post on this one :D.

  5. John I. says:

    Good story and boiled down to illustrate great points to get though life no matter what it throws at us! Personally, I usually try to anticipate what might go wrong and how to deal with it if the situation does come up, whether it is in my work life or personal life. It’s always good if I can have a “Plan B” and if I have to use it, evaluate it as it unfolds and make adjustments as necessary. Thanks for sharing your insights!

  6. Dan Black says:

    What a great story and points. I have found being prepared to the best of your ability is important when it comes to crises. The pilots had no idea what was going to happen but they where prepared for anything. Great post.

  7. Tony Pompliano says:

    Great insight! Thank you for writing and sharing. Your post reminds me of a great story that involves tragedy (9/11 WTC) but many people aren’t familiar with. Morgan Stanley, the NY based financial firm, who had approximately 2500 employees working in Tower 2 of the WTC on the day of the attacks on 9/11 lost only 6 employees that day. 6 too many, but they averted much worse causalities because of their 7 years of preparation and practice for emergencies & disasters.

    After the WTC was bombed in 1993 Morgan Stanley’s leadership instituted a series training programs, quarterly drills and delegation of responsibilities to best prepare the company to handle emergencies and disasters. They practiced quarterly drills of evacuations, ensuring that all 2500 employees followed their disaster plans, which included walking down nearly 80 flights of stairs, each and every quarter. Many employees would complain about the interruption to their work day and what they believed was unnecessary drills. Senior leadership, specifically their CEO, Philip J. Purcell & Robert Scott, President, did not relent and continued to insist on the evacuation drills.

    I think the Morgan Stanley situation is a great example of leadership in preparation.

    I’ve attached a Harvard Business article that provides more detail.

    HBR – Morgan Stanley

    • Tony, thanks for the comment, and for the great example about Morgan Stanley. A perfect case study of all 5 lessons, with a real emphasis on Leadership as the Leaders stuck to their guns and dd not give in to pressure to stop the drills. Thanks so much for sharing it, and the link to HBR.

  8. Paul says:

    Hi Enrique, thanks for your insight and the points your provided. Valuable!
    Paul

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