Thursday, July 30, 2009

Heroes Are People Too

I just returned from the big EAA Airventure Airshow and Convention in Oshkosh, WI. This is an annual trip for me, and I am always impressed by both the technology and the people. One of the best parts is that you get to have personal conversations with people who have been through ordeals you will probably (hopefully) never have to face. Last year I spoke briefly with Dick Cole, co-pilot with Jimmy Doolittle in the April 18, 1942 payback raid on Tokyo by sixteen B-25 bombers. This year I met Jeff Skiles, First Officer of US Airways Flight 1549 that made a safe emergency landing in New York's Hudson River. The common thread in my conversations with both of these heroes is that while talking with them, you feel as though you are talking with an old friend from down the street. They feel as though they were just doing their jobs, although doing them very well under very trying circumstances. There were a lot of other just plain folks there, too: the airmen and soldiers of World War II and all the subsequent wars. It is always a privilege to meet them and talk with them. They are heroes, although you'll probably never learn of their individual exploits. The nice thing about the Oshkosh Airshow is that you also meet a lot of young people who are growing up to appreciate aviation and the heroes that came before them and walk among them.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Unintended Consequences

Whenever you make a decision that will affect your future, you should remember that unintended consequences may result. Here are a few societal and personal examples that come to mind:
Desire: Use computers more to eliminate files of papers. Result: More paperwork as people back up their computers with paper versions because of mistrust of computer reliability or rapid computer obsolescence.
Desire: Pass more laws to control crime and regulate society. Result: More lawyers.
Desire: Visits to fast food restaurants to save time in busy schedules. Result: Obesity and poor nutrition balance.
Desire: Get the best cable or satellite TV package. Result: Lack of exercise and obesity; no time for other tasks.
Desire: Hire landscapers to have a more appealing lawn and grounds. Result: Lack of exercise.

I'm sure you can think of other similar cases.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

You Matter More than Your Job.

Most Americans, when asked about themselves in the course of meeting new people, will describe themselves by what they do for a living. In other parts of the world a self-description includes more basic, general, and personal information. When you describe yourself in terms of your job, you open yourself up to two negative consequences. First, you present a very limited image of yourself. There is much more to you than the job you happen to be performing. The second problem is that when you have a self-image that is based on your job, you are setting yourself up to be traumatized if you lose that job. There are many things that you could be doing for a living. It may have been a complete accident that led you to the position you now occupy. Spend some time thinking about what really matters to you and what you would really like to do or achieve in life. Start talking to people about those important things instead of talking about your job all the time, and you might find doors opening toward actually doing some of those other things.