– Jonathan Swift
Weren’t you heartbroken over the death of John F. Kennedy Jr.?
We recently finished a three-day soiree with our long time friends from Boston, who we have visited frequently on Martha’s Vineyard where their family has had a home for more than 100 years.
As usual, the conversation turned to island lore, Fall from Grace, the recent mystery novel from Richard North Patterson, which takes place on the island (which I highly recommend), … and inevitably to the Kennedy folklore and the tragic death of JFK Jr.
My wife has had a lifelong interest in the family side of the Kennedy dynasty, so she was enthralled by a factoid we hadn’t heard before … that as a poignant denouement to that fateful airplane crash, JFK Jr.’s suitcase happened to wash up on the shore of none other than his mother’s home on the island.
During our conversation, my mind drifted to wonder again why JFK Jr. was overreaching his capability as a private pilot.
He had a basic pilot’s license, which permitted him to fly under VFR (“Visual Flight Rules”), which basically means navigating around only the things you can see.
Yet he was flying into weather conditions that required IFR (“Instrument Flight Rules”) for which he was not qualified.
Flights operating under VFR are flown solely by reference to what is visible.
What you can see serves as your cue for navigation, orientation, and separation from terrain and other traffic for safe operations during all phases of flight.
Remember … you won’t BECOME a better leader until you start BEING a better leader. Start by making sure you’re not creating your own distractions and you know where you’re pointing that finger … and implement the one-word formula to avoid disaster.
Essentially, it means navigating around only the things you can see, while IFR requires instruments to see the things you can’t see.
Most of us are pretty good at dealing with what’s in front of us where we’re much more comfortable, aren’t we?
Don’t we often find ourselves saying something like, “I’ll believe it when I see it”, or “seeing is believing”?
Even utilizing all of our five senses, we are primarily attuned to only what is in our current space. We’re convinced that if we can have full command of what’s in our field of perception, our powerful senses can guide us with great precision and understanding.
We’re good at that, so if we see it, we can handle it.
So, why do we continue to make so many decisions while flying VFR when the conditions demand an IFR instrument rating?
While we might hear or see or smell distant objects, our perception is severely limited by focusing only on what is within our “field of vision”, and hardly substitutes for other tools with more far reaching capability.
Maybe it’s hubris or arrogance that makes us think we can conquer anything regardless of our visibility, but that’s not very realistic, is it?
We really need to devote some quality time to advancing our skills to understand and refine the tools that do belong on our IFR dashboard.
These metrics can range from simple sales reports to more sophisticated business intelligence that captures and tracks information from multiple sources to help us understand what’s happening outside our field of vision.
As your business grows, even finely tuned IFR skills will need to be revised and upgraded depending on the type of aircraft you’re flying.
Are you piloting a blimp or a helicopter rather than a multi-engine aircraft?
Every week, we’re sharing valuable and practical leadership tips and tools to help you BECOME a better leader. Why not get these valuable tips and techniques sent directly to your inbox every week so you don’t miss them?
You’ll need to be clear about that, as well, to make sure you’re collecting the right intelligence and developing the appropriate metrics. As your team grows, you may even need a further upgrade to an Airline Transport Pilot certificate that allows you to bring other people along with you.
If you’re a solopreneur, VFR skills may take you a long way.
But if you’re building an organization, you’ll need to develop IFR capability.
So, if you find yourself airborne with only a VFR license, start working on the IFR upgrade that will allow you to navigate safely through those clouds. Make sure you’re gathering information to measure and monitor what you can’t see.
I’m going to help you with this, too.
In the coming weeks, I will be rolling out a free video program describing some IFR tools and metrics that you can apply to your business.
Remember one more thing as you create and build your business:
Takeoffs are optional; landings are mandatory.
Have you got your metrics in order … and are you paying attention to every one of them?
This article was published in the July 2, 2012 edition of the North Bay Business Journal, a publication of the New York Times, and a weekly business newspaper which I have served as a regular columnist for over four years. The Business Journal covers the North Bay area of San Francisco – from the Golden Gate bridge north, including the Wine Country of Sonoma and Napa counties. The electronic version of this article, as published by the North Bay Business Journal, may be found here.
FINANCIAL ADRENALINE is the most powerful program available to educate middle market business executives about the value of Business FinanceOur Business Finance section will include the core of business finance principles that drive superior performance at a strategic level and that can be integrated into your everyday business decision making.. Let us help you inject Financial Adrenaline into the cash flow of your business to drive lower risk and sustainable cash flow ... and prevent finance from being the reason for business failure.