Glad I Had A Mindful Co-Pilot

My plane was delayed coming out of Boston yesterday due to ice on the fuselage and if at least one person in the plane thought it was due to a mindful co-pilot who saw the big picture.

Returning from a meeting in Boston yesterday I sat next to a pilot who was riding along to his next destination and we started having a conversation about piloting. I mentioned to him about my work in resilience and that I am seeing mindfulness finally making it out of the meditation studio and into the Board room.

He told me that as a pilot he is all about mindfulness as he obviously has to pay attention to all the details associated with flying.  Mindfulness for him, however,  is not about the sharp focus that might be required of a hockey goalie but is more like that of the referee who is required to see all the action on the ice with a broad view or what it sometimes referred to as soft eyes. Keeping track of all the gauges is an impossibility so he looks for small aberrations that might be of concern and point out other problems.

He mentioned that prior to today’s flight, he saw the co-pilot, on his walk around, saw ice had formed on the top of the fuselage requiring de-icing. For some co-pilots on their walk-around, they might have missed it but he saw this fellow walk out about 50 yards from the plane so he could get a bigger perspective of the plane. Oftentimes the walk around is more about the bottom half of the plane. This extra bit of mindfulness pointed out a potential problem that could have caused big problems once we were in the air.

Mindfulness is much more than what people think of in relationship to meditation. Today is is being seen as the ability to see the big picture while focusing on a variety of discriminating items. Its about having a balance of focusing on what you are doing and recognizing that other things are going on within the context of your environment. Consider how you use mindfulness for yourself, certainly while you are driving your own car but consider how you can apply to places like staff meetings, customer sales meetings and watching your kids play with others.

I’m not sure if our co-pilot thinks of himself as mindful or just doing his job but I was glad he took the extra time to find that ice and get it off that plane.



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