Knowing where you are and where you are going

As society evolves the world gets more and more sophisticated and complicated. Technological advancement has enabled us to reach the far corners of the world at the speed of light. it has also enabled us to work or to shop without leaving our homes. New and improved products appear in the market ever so often. The world has shrunk. If you remember the movie “round the world in 80 days.” Now it takes less than 48 hours to travel round the world. One can fly around the equator or round the poles without any problems at all. Whereas in the old days the traditional professions were as doctors, lawyers, engineers or accountants, however nowadays we have hundreds and thousands to choose from.

With so much distraction and choice offered to us, it does not come as a surprise if some of us are confused. Do we really know what we want in life? And if we do know what we want, do we know how to achieve it and which route to take on our life’s journey?

Those are difficult questions to answer. Of course you could read some “self-help” books to guide you. Here I would like to offer you some guidance an tips from what I have learned from the cockpit discipline. So let us go on a flight and see how pilots do it.


First thing that a pilot does is to know where he is going; his destination. This is akin to setting our goals in life. This is important as otherwise we will be going through life aimlessly not knowing if we have reached or when we will reach our destination. As Steven Covey aptly puts it “begin with the end in mind.”

For any flight there is always the departure (starting point) and the destination. The destination does not change unless the situation at destination changes or some other circumstances dictate otherwise. When that happens there is always an alternate to the destination that the pilot will go to, which is not far from the destination.

In life too we should have a goal (destination) as well as an alternative goal (the alternate). Once we have set our goals we then need to think of how to get there; the journey. However we could set on the journey we have to know where to start; our present position.

Present position

If we do not know where we are and who we are, (our strength and weakness), how do we know that our goal is realistic and achievable. Just like an aircraft with a small tank, the pilot cannot expect to reach his destination flying non stop. He would have to land somewhere for refuelling and then continues on the journey again.

Before flight, the pilot has to program the onboard computers with the correct aircraft present position, telling the aircraft where it is. After that he has to review the aircraft maintenance log book to find out what are the unserviceable items (the aircraft’s strength and weakness) that could affect the journey . This is important as some unserviceable items could pose some restrictions. As an example if there is a unserviceable item for the airconditiong and pressurization system, the aircraft could still depart and proceed on the journey, however there could be a restriction on the cruising altitude (flying at a lower altitude). This then could cause the fuel burn to increase, resulting in the requirement to uplift additional fuel in order to proceed with the flight and thus less economical.

Learning from the cockpit discipline, knowing where we are, then knowing our strength and weakness (who we are) are crucial elements for us in order to plan our life’s journey.

In my next posting I will talk about the aircraft journey itself, what the pilots do to ensure the aircraft is on track.

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