Flying is inherently risky. Driving is too. However, if you have a problem in a car you can usually pull off the road and figure things out. You don’t have that luxury in an airplane. Therefore, being a good pilot is much more than just being able to control the airplane. It includes being an expert at mitigating risk. And, that requires planning.
When preparing for a flight, pilots are taught to look at all available information. They review data on the departure and destination airports as well as any information they can find about the route of flight. This means before a flight, I look at runway lengths, weather, available services and anything else that might impact my ability to go from airport to airport. Additionally, I look at terrain and airways between the airports, radio frequencies, and traffic along the route. Finally, I look for airports along the way that might be able to be used as alternates in case of emergency.
Then, pilots are taught to review and understand the airplane they will be flying. Are they up to date on all the systems? How much fuel is available and what is the burn rate? Finally, is there anything about the airplane that might impact that trip, upcoming maintenance, expired components, etc.?
We take all that information and create a flight plan encompassing every step of the way from takeoff to touchdown. Every heading, every turn, every altitude change, and every stop. In some cases, if you are going to a place you’ve not been before, the plan may even include how to get from the runway to the terminal. Then, as a last step, we fly the trip in our heads from start to finish.
Unfortunately, even after all the planning there are thousands of things that might keep a trip from going as planned. However, having and understanding all that information gives pilots options. The middle of an emergency is not the time to be trying to learn how to work your radio, or whether or not your destination airport has a firetruck available.
The same thing should be true for your life and career. Take time to look at your current situation and where you would like to end up. Look at what is required to get there. Do you have everything? If not, put together a plan to get what you need. What happens if things don’t happen as you’d like? Are there contingency plans you can put in place? Are there things you can do to increase the chances of being successful, or at least minimize the risk of failing? Write these things down and put them somewhere you can easily find them. Then, take some time and imagine yourself working your plan successfully from start to finish.
Things probably won’t go exactly as you would like. However, if you’ve planned and thought through your journey, you significantly lessen the chances of being caught by surprise. Even if you are surprised, having all that information available should provide you with options to keep you safely headed in the right direction.
What has been your experience with career planning? Has it helped? Did you feel it was a waste of time? I’d love to hear from you in the comments or tweet me at @skoonermn.Image Credit: http://www.crazywebsite.com/pg-Funny-Pictures/Vintage_Public_Domain_Images_WWI_Weapons_Aircraft-1.html