Calmness Enables Clear Thinking
“Bob Hoover, a famous test pilot and frequent performer at air shows, was returning to his home in Los Angeles from an air show in San Diego. As described in the magazine Flight Operations, at three hundred feet in the air, both engines suddenly stopped. By deft maneuvering he managed to land the plane, but it was badly damaged although nobody was hurt.
Hoover’s first act after the emergency landing was to inspect the airplane’s fuel. Just as he suspected, the World War II propeller plane he had been flying had been fueled with jet fuel rather than gasoline.
Upon returning to the airport, he asked to see the mechanic who had serviced his airplane. The young man was sick with the agony of his mistake . Tears streamed down his face as Hoover approached. He had just caused the loss of a very expensive plane and could have caused the loss of three lives as well.
You can imagine Hoover’s anger. One could anticipate the tongue-lashing that this proud and precise pilot would unleash for that carelessness. But Hoover didn’t scold the mechanic; he didn’t even criticize him. Instead, he put his big arm around the man’s shoulder and said, ‘To show you I’m sure that you’ll never do this again, I want you to service my F-51 tomorrow.’“*
By calmly and objectively assessing the situation, undistorted by emotion, Hoover is clearly able to perceive the sincerity of the mechanic’s remorse, therefore he forgives him. The mechanic’s burden is lifted and Hoover wins for himself a most loyal mechanic for the rest of his flying days. Objectivity and peaceful circumspection enable clear thinking, thus allowing for the appropriate response in most situations.
*Carnegie, Dale. How to win friends & influence people. Simon & Schuster, 2009. Print