There is a mistake that kills time, progress, and sometimes people. It causes confusion and hesitation in moments where confidence and clear thinking is essential.
Here are a couple of illustrations of the insidious affect this mistake has on behavior. See if you can identify what the mistake is.
Illustration one: Yesterday as my road manager and I walked through Minneapolis airport we came to a moving walkway that was not moving. Even with every visual cue confirming that the walkway was stopped and and verbal acknowledgment that it was not moving we both stumbled as we stepped on it.
Illustration two: A twin engine pilot knows, the most critical moment in flight is that moment just before the pilot reaches takeoff speed. If an engine fails at that moment the pilot must immediately complete a series of actions in exactly the right order or she will crash. Many pilots have died because when this moment became a reality, even though all the visual clues indicated engine failure, they stumbled and failed to complete the tasks that could save their lives.
The mistake? Thousands of times stepping onto a moving walkway had conditioned us to expect that same sensation every time. We were unprepared for the unexpected sensation of stepping on to a walkway that was motionless. We stumbled.
My flight instructor told me that the most dangerous pilots were those who had experienced thousands of takeoffs without incident. He taught me to say out loud before every takeoff, “this could be the time.” He then trained me to mentally go through actions that would keep the plane flying, touching each control in the order it would be needed.
This preparation saved my life one day when an engine failed.
How prepared are you for the complete change that could come to your life tomorrow or even in the next seconds? The loss of a loved one, an economic crisis, a relational conflict, a health challenge, the loss of a job are all things that change the movement of life in an instant.
Of course we shouldn’t be running around like Chicken Little waiting for the sky to fall. But it is critical that we have the courage to look at the “what ifs” in life and consider what our actions will be.
Are you prepared or will you stumble?
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