The airspace above our home is at least partially designated for pilots in training on small, single-engine planes. About once a week, I hear a small plane above us, that suddenly cuts its engine…only to restart it, shortly after.
The pilots and their instructors are practicing engine failure procedures so that, should an engine actually fail in flight, a pilot is more likely to be able to land the plane.
Recently, someone asked me:
How do I keep things from bothering me so much at work?
I asked a few questions about his situation and discovered a whole slew of reasons that things were quite bumpy right now. While he was making good progress on turning those issues around, the current challenges were eating at him. Worse, even in a best-case scenario, it would be some time before his professional situation was substantially better.
As the conversation went on, it came up that he wasn’t doing much to engage with friendships, wasn’t working out regularly, and was putting in tons of hours. Since I was asked for advice, I offered this:
You’re flying a single engine plane.
A single engine plane can be a lot of fun to fly, but you are out of options if your engine fails. You’re going down — hopefully in a controlled glide onto a field or road — but going down, for sure.
Just like a lot of us go down, at least in our psychological well-being, when something really bad happens at work.
Two ways around this:
One way is to never have anything go badly at work. Funny, I know, but don’t think that I haven’t deluded myself into thinking I could control this, at a few points in my career. I still even occasionally attempt this delusion today.
It’s easy to live the dream when the weather is great and you’ve been flying successfully for years. But even if you’re on the safest, most reliable engine in the world — a large bird could strike and take it down in seconds.
The better option? Fly with more engines.
Rather than attempting to control the uncontrollable, get more engines on your plane. Investing in new friendships, exercising better, volunteering in the community, taking up a new hobby, and spending time with children are just a few things that have worked for me and others.
If you find yourself riding on a single engine, your tendency may be to invest your effort to make it most efficient. That’s good work to do, but not at the expense of the bigger picture. In addition, consider more power, somewhere else. If you’re willing to be a little less Cessna and a little more 747, you’ll keep yourself aloft when the failures come.