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Coaching is our co-pilot. Amen.

My best friend from college is a pilot for a major cargo transport airline.

I remember the day “back in the day” he told me:

“I’m going to fly, Kev.”

And he did. Hour after hour, rating after rating, city after city, until he began flying around the world regularly.

The intrinsic value reward of flying people and stuff around the world was always there for him and still is. He’s a huge inspiration for me for sure.

If you’ve ever seen the “sitting in a chair in the sky” comedy bit from comedian Louis C.K. (otherwise known as Everything’s Amazing and Nobody’s Happy), you most certainly busted a gut (most of you maybe).

Fact is, flying from San Francisco to New York in less than six hours is pretty amazing when you think about it.

Don’t be impatient. Think about it.

And then think about actually doing the flying back and forth multiple times per week.

Now, I would’ve thought that such a high-stress occupation would require not only regular flight tests throughout the year, but also a highly entrenched peer coaching and mentoring environment as well as regular performance reviews — multiple not singular.

But no, that’s not the case, although every year my friend and the other pilots he works with do have to pass an annual line check (a flight test), which is a good thing.

And there are regular performance reviews — once per year that is.

Coaching and mentoring? Supportive informal pockets, yes. But there is also a highly competitive seniority-based environment in the pilot realm as well, when getting on your manager’s radar usually isn’t a good thing.

Please, if you’re a professional pilot, no e-mails and phone calls. I understand I’m not speaking for everyone. This is just what I’ve gleaned from my friend who works his butt off to fly and fly well. His company is solid with an impeccable safety record and stellar talent and has persevered the economic and fuel-driven maelstroms.

I just thought there’d be more.

We’ve talked about the benefits of establishing a coaching culture a few times recently — here (LeaderCoach), here (1-on-1’s) and here (Coachable Moments).

But wait–

Come to think of it, there are probably more informal coachable “peer” moments in the cockpit than even my friend articulated. Fact is, if you’re flying nonstop for 12+ hours, battling fatigue and time zone travel, you’re definitely going to be leaning on your co-pilot in the cockpit.

And isn’t that the way it should be in our daily cockpits on the ground, whoever that co-pilot may be, at home and at work?

No, it’s not a stretch. Think about it. I know I leaned on my pilot friend more than once, and he on me.

Coaching is our co-pilot. Amen.

Be better and brighter.

(Thank you, my friend.)


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