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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.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Gambling With Your Life

 A Sickness in the Aviation Industry 

There are good gamblers and there are bad gamblers. The distinction between the two is knowing when to walk away from the table.

When a person is not dealt the desired cards or the dice aren't rolling his way, a good gambler has the mental capacity to accept his losses and walk away from the table. Whereas a bad gambler goes on tilt. The bad gambler thinks if he doubles down he will eventually win. He believes that time is on his side. Until he loses everything.

Knowing odds, understanding statistics, and having the ability to make educated decisions can help while playing cards. However, the ego driven individual who cannot handle losing, despite what it will cost him, and begins betting on the river with nothing in his hand, the odds are against him. 

What happens when these high-level poker games are real life and passengers' lives are at stake?

Airline Management and Gambling

When airline managers begin gambling with passenger safety and someone calls them on it, and these managers stay in the game despite having nothing in their hand, they are destined for failure. When management loses, and the ego takes over and compels them to try and win at any cost, ignoring the high risk behavior, this identifies a sickness not unlike that of the gambler who is unable to walk away from the table. Unfortunately these managers are gambling with peoples lives. 

When the embarrassment of that loss becomes too great, and these managers decide to permanently remove the player from the game who called them out for risking passengers lives, instead of solving the problem, this compulsive behavior identifies a sickness. When these managers want that person gone at any expense, and are willing to pay any amount to stay in a game that they cannot win, simply to remove the player permanently, raises this behavior to the level of a psychosis. 

Unfortunately these managers hold the worst possible hand during the game of getting even. Yet, they stay in the game. This game is now live for others to watch. The cameras are rolling and these managers have to redeem their integrity. They have to prove they can win despite not having anything in their hand. They have to get rid of that player who won, to prove they were correct and restore their manhood.

The problem is, when these ego driven managers have placed themselves in this position they are not making logical decisions. They are not focused on their jobs. Not focused on managing the airline. And, unfortunately, they are financing this high-level poker game with stockholder and employees' money. These managers have unlimited pockets and can attack the player they want gone without any accountability. 

They believe time is on their side, and continue dumping money into a game they cannot win. Perhaps believing that eventually they may get lucky. More likely they have nothing to lose and intend to keep the game going as long as they can, at everyone else's expense, knowing that when the game is finally shutdown, they will be retired with their golden parachutes and stock options.

It's unfortunate when these games begin as the result of players, highly invested in passenger safety, say, "We should not gamble on passenger's live." When management's response is to remove the player, Federal Law (AIR21) is supposed to protect the individual, as reporting culture is required under Safety Management Systems (SMS). Sadly, airline managers have learned to use the AIR21 statute as another high-level poker game where the individual who reported safety becomes an unwitting player.

Irresponsible gambling is a sickness. It doesn't matter if you're sitting in a card room or at the Board of Directors table of an airline. Someone who cares might need to intervene and help those who cannot help themselves. If you know a gambler, airline manager, or a CEO who needs help do the right thing, please help them to help themselves. Identification of the problem is the first step. 

Airline Management and Gamblers alike, 
If you have a gambling problem get help!


Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene PhD, MBA, MHS

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