Just Lucky I Guess…

A great deal has already been said about the plane landing in the Hudson River last Thursday. What’s amazing to me is how many people have ascribed to luck the happy ending to what could have been a major disaster.

Was luck involved? Certainly!

It was lucky that the plane went down at a time of day when there was very little commercial shipping on the river. 

It was lucky that the ferries were out at the time the plane went down.

It was lucky that the particular pilot just happened to have the necessary and appropriate training to recognize what had happened and not panic. Instead, he remained calm and relied on his training to glide a passenger jet down to the river.

As the old saying goes, luck is when 10,000 hours of preparation meets a moment of opportunity. 

The lack of shipping and the presence of ferries wouldn’t have helped much if the pilot had lacked the skill to bring the plane down safely. It’s doubtful that he ever really believed that all that time he spent training, flying, and in a simulator would matter, other than for his own growth and development. What are the odds of a double-bird strike? What are the odds that just the right person was in the right place at the right time? Who could have known what would happen?

No one.

And this is the lesson for businesses. It’s easy to see what skills and knowledge are useful today. No one knows what skills or knowledge will prove useful tomorrow. Trends can change in a metaphorical heartbeat. When businesses cut training and development, or restrict the courses an employee can take (refusing to pay for a course unless a “clear” business need exists), that business is focusing entirely on the problems of today. It is not creating a workforce that is ready for the problems of tomorrow. Ready, in other words, to face unpredictable situations, unexpected problems, and unplanned for or unlikely circumstances.

On the other hand, those who have had the opportunity train and develop their skills, who have the freedom to explore their interests and learn the things that may or may not be obviously useful, are the most likely to come up with a good solution to an unexpected problem.

In the end, luck really does favor the prepared mind.

Leave a comment

Your comment