Two Things Life as a Military Pilot Taught Me About Experience
A library of clever sayings exists in military aviation to make complex thoughts simple and memorable. Here’s two of my favorite, and they just happen to be on the same topic, Experience.
“Experience is what you have right after you need it.”
Experience is a wonderful teacher, but it always shows up late. We make decisions by applying the information at hand to memories of similar situations we’ve handled in the past. In the absence of prior experience, we run through the scenario a few times in our mind and then set a course of action we think will produce the best result. If it works, great! If it doesn’t, you’ve just earned some experience.
“Learn from the Experiences of Others; You Won’t Live Long Enough to Make Them All Yourself.”
Every pilot at the controls during a crash believed in their decision so much, they were willing to bet their life on it. Literally. Whatever situation they found themselves in, they were 100% sure their solution was optimal, even if they ended up being dead wrong.
Even in situations where Murphy’s Law kicked in and no perfect resolution was possible, the person at the controls took actions they believed would result in the best possible outcome. Their decision had to be grounded in the study of others who’d been in the same situation, and the knowledge of what worked and what didn’t.
The Bottom Line
In life, we all have the controls to our own destiny. The direction you’re driving your life is 100% in your control, whether you realize it or not. Instead of steering with your hands, you steer your life with your choices. Look at the people around you that have been in similar situations, learn what works and what doesn’t, and make educated choices learning from the pain from other people’s experience.
The good news is that unless you’re doing something stupid behind the wheel of a car, you’re not likely to be 10 seconds from death. The bad news is that some slow decisions have equally lethal consequences. It may not take your life; it may only take your health, your happiness, or your passion.