What happens when you hit turbulence in your life?
Do you fly straight or start second guessing yourself?
In conversation with a client this week we were discussing how their organisation seemed to be descending into dysfunction.
Decisions are being made without consultation and sometimes against the flow of logic.
It’s hard not to take this personally when it affects you.
You might feel bewildered or frustrated. You might be thinking how do you game the situation to your advantage.
If you feel really angry or aggrieved, you might think of ways of ‘letting them have it’ or ‘getting your own back.’
Or if you want to play it more as a game to be won…perhaps you play out all sorts of scenarios in your mind.
There are alliances to be made, tactics to follow. A strategy to dream up.
Like many people I speak with, I’m not a great fan of office politics. Or friendship politics or any kind of group politics for that matter.
It seems like a recipe for manipulation, hurt, disaffection and frustration.
So in the face of others’ turbulence, there is a far simpler stance to adopt.
I call it ‘Just fly the plane.’
Think of it this way.
Say you work for an airline where the management is making poor or unpopular decisions and causing distress to the teams that work for them, including the pilots, cabin crew, engineers, support functions….
If you’re a pilot, whatever your feelings about those decisions (assuming they are not safety critical), when you next fly, your entire focus will be on the safe execution of the flight.
You stay in your lane. You don’t risk your life or others’. You execute. You advocate for what you know is right. You stay true to your values: safe flight, safe conduct.
From this standpoint, there are no politics to play. It’s simple. You simply fly the plane.
If it does become safety critical, say the bosses are mandating flying with less fuel or maintenance rigour, you don’t compromise on your training, your values, your integrity.
That's the moment to take a stand. To speak your truth.
If they make the situation unsafe, you make a decision. Is this really the place for me?
Can I sustain being in deep violation of my values?
This metaphor can also extend to other areas of your life. Big things like Friendships. Relationships. Or smaller things. Aggression on the road. A disagreement.
It doesn’t have to be complicated.
It’s not that you won’t have emotions or that you won’t express them.
But whatever your inner world response is, just fly the plane.
Do your thing, stay aligned to your values, and in integrity with yourself.
From that standpoint, you are a beacon of steadfastness, a calm voice in the storm, when others are losing their heads.