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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday Motivation: The Power of Focus

A fly-away to success is the power focus.

If misdirected... can cause a really bad day.

Worrying about your previous failures prevents you from enjoying the present and living in the now. We all fail, so I know you have failures of your own stored in the baggage compartment of life. My guess is you check in on them and remind yourself that you screwed up. That old concept that ‘I have to remember so I don’t make the same mistake’ is a waste of time. Remember the lesson learned, not what you did. If you allow the weight of your failures and doubts to pile up, your center of gravity will be off and you’ll end up with your plane sitting on its tale, or worse yet, you sitting on yours. You won’t get very far in that position. Empty your baggage compartment and free yourself of the added weight. You think the price of checked baggage is expensive when you travel—just imagine how much you’re paying to carry all your crap with you on your journey through life.

Pilots never think about the runway behind them

Focus on the now

During my 737 type-rating, my captain’s license, I didn’t notice the lack of brake-pressure during the preflight. Of course the examiner gave me an engine fire requiring an abort as the first maneuver. I noticed this system depletion the moment I began pulling the thrust levers to idle. My eyes glanced to the brake indicator then back to the runway in a flash. I pressed on the pedals as I pulled max reverse on the engines, bringing the plane to a stop.

Stop without break pressure? Absolutely—there is an accumulator and solid pedal pressure can stop the plane on the accumulator. I didn’t pump the breaks. I would only have seven applications before the accumulator would bleed away. After the abort, the questions came flying, and I answered all the details of the brake system. At first I had no idea when the break pressure disappeared. Maybe I didn’t see it on the preflight. Maybe he’d failed it during the taxi. That didn’t matter.

Later the examiner assured me it had been empty from the moment I arrived in the plane. I really messed up. I missed a major pre-flight item. But I focused on stopping the plane, not on the lack of pressure. I focused on the dealing with what I had, not on what I didn’t have. I focused on what I could do, not on what I did not do. We taxied back into position, and continued the check ride. I never thought about my missing the hydraulic brake pressure during the remainder of the flight. My focus was on flying the plane during each maneuver, and I completed a successful ride.

How did I move forward and not allow that error to bring me down? Due to this mistake, I was able to show him how well I knew the system. I also know that we all make mistakes— it’s how we deal with those errors that matter. Besides, if he was allowing me to continue then that error wasn’t enough for a failure by itself. I had also been very fortunate a month earlier to be part of a serious discussion on leading cause of pilot failures.

I had been listening to a couple examiners discuss how they witnessed pilots’ flying skills degrade after an error occurred. Guess where their heads were? On the error and not on flying the plane. I had promised myself from that moment forward I would learn from my mistakes, but leave them behind. When the plane is parked safely at the gate, the engines are shut down, and I’m away from the situation is the best time to reflect. Then toss it.

There is no extra room in my baggage compartment when I’ve got important things that need to be done. My power of focus is essential, and so is yours.

Enjoy the Journey!

XOX Karlene


  1. Hi Karlene, good job...

    Can I ask you something, did you ever see how yours articles are displayed in the google reader?
    If you write in blue fonts...


    1. I didn't! I'm thinking blue is not good. But it looks nice on the blue background. Okay...Any other colors don't work?

    2. The font are smaller than usual too. The problem isn't the color but the tonality, it must to be strong.

      But let me say another thing, I really like yours article, it are clever and usefull...

    3. Thanks. I'm going to take a look at it as soon as I have a moment to breath. Thank you so much for telling me about this.

  2. Wow A very inspiring post!!! thank you for making me realize again because I've always been disturbed by my past failures.

  3. Time to put our baggage down. Well said! I feel lighter already!

  4. Excellent advice, Karlene. I love that idea of 'remember what you learned, not what you did (wrong).' That is such a good way to think about this.


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