The Pilot’s Mind

Did you know that airplanes fly off course 90% of the time? I was fascinated to learn this information! Weather, turbulence, and other atmospheric factors commonly shift the plane away from the destination. It’s incredible to think that even with the route entered into GPS, the environment is still pushing the plane in different directions. 

Going Off Course
Think about this from the pilot’s perspective. They set the course and then, instead of sitting back confident that the plane will arrive perfectly as planned, spend the entire flight making micro-adjustments to bring the plane back on track. Instead of getting frustrated with the disturbances, they focus on the destination. They accept, in advance, that the journey won’t be perfect. Instead of fighting that knowledge, they fight the challenges as they arise, constantly and calmly.

The Pilot’s Mind
The pilot’s approach to being pushed off course is what I call the “The Pilot’s Mind.” This mindset can absolutely be applied to leadership in general. If you think about it, a leader’s job is to set the course: the vision, the goals, and the nonnegotiable rules of the practice. Just like a pilot facing obstacles in the sky, leaders can’t prevent their people from veering slightly off course. They must work with them to get back on track. Bringing team members back into alignment taps into the skills of a pilot’s mind.

Looking Ahead
A leader with a pilot’s mind is constantly looking at the view ahead and the factors that could impact the flight course. It is crucial to stay focused on the destination while calmly and productively adjusting to forces pushing us off course. By being alert and aware, pilot leaders make frequent adjustments to ensure the destination is reached safely and successfully. In the end, following “The Pilot’s Mind” makes for a smooth landing.

Planning for Turbulence
The “The Pilot’s Mind” can be achieved without going to flight school. The first step is to consider all of the things that can push you and the business off course: turnover, regulation changes, inflation, changes in the job market, etc. etc. etc.  Yes, the list is endless but consider the most likely scenarios and plan for them.  Know how you are going to respond to getting pushed off course so you can more quickly and easily get back on course.  

Personal Turbulence
Do this same inventory with your personal triggers that get you off course. When you know what causes you frustration ask yourself why it sends you in the wrong direction. Recognizing that you have been triggered, allows you to then make a choice to recenter yourself. The more quickly you can identify that you’ve been triggered, the shorter time you spend off track.  

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About Amy Lafko

As a Physical Therapist, Amy spent years in school learning best practices for patient care and how to put the patient first. Like so many technically skilled clinicians, she advanced to a leadership role. Spending 20+ years in operational leadership, she had an epiphany: Putting the customer first isn’t the path to success or fulfillment. Rather, the most successful organizations and practices put their people first – and exceptional customer care, profitability, and effectiveness naturally followed.