Auto-Pilot is for the Birds

#FPF – Week 14

This week’s #FPF is being written while up in Boston/New England.  There’s been a number of things I have been thinking about as writing prompts while walking the city streets and interacting with local businesses.  I thought I’d start from the beginning of the trip, however, and draw some parallels to business owners and pilots.

While cruising at 33,000 feet – listening to the captain’s announcements, I began to contemplate how running a business could be similar to flying a plane.  With all of the modern technologies available today, airplanes essentially fly themselves… right?  Well, not exactly…

Auto-pilot is for the birds
Pictured Above: Jim & Jim Sr. – Flying over Venice, FL #beardgame

Having spent some time behind the sticks myself with my dad, flying a plane is much like driving a car… on a set of stacked highways.  You are given set cruising altitudes based on the airspace you are in and the type of equipment (or airplane) you are flying.  In addition to the altitude, your heading can be altered based on the airspace you are approaching (ex. needing to change directions slightly to fly around a military air base).  The luxury of “auto-pilot” is somewhat short-lived as you communicate with personnel on the ground to constantly correct for altitude and heading to ensure you arrive at your destination.

In business, we are often tempted to hit the “auto-pilot” button the second we find it (augmenting “the grind” for comfort).  As with flying, when we take our hands off the controls and stop listening to what air traffic control is telling us – we run the risk of entering spaces we shouldn’t or worse, suffering a mid-air collision.  Make no mistake, you’re still the “captain”, but it takes a crew of highly trained (and alert) professionals to keep things on the right track.

Our Delta pilot during our last flight confirmed that 100’s of course corrections are made during any given flight.  Change is inevitable, the most alert and proactive leaders not only recognize this fact, but embrace it.  They take lessons from past experiences and use that feedback to guide their future headings – knowing that what course they think they’ll be taking to get to their destination is subject to change at a moment’s notice.

Take Back the Sticks

Auto-Pilot sounds great, but there’s a lot to be forfeited by letting someone (or something) determine how your business achieves its goals.  Now is the time to take back control of the plane and get things moving in the right direction.  She’s all yours, captain!  Happy flying and have a great weekend.