HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- When the most celebrated pilot in American aviation, Captain Chesley Sullenberger, was preparing to land the U.S. Airways jet he commanded in the Hudson River, there was no uncertainty in his mind.
"I was sure he could do it,'' he told CBS News journalist Katie Couric in a post-landing interview on "60 Minutes."
Sullenberger was able to "force calm" on the situation because he felt his entire career had been preparation for that moment. That is how every professional should approach turbulence and whatever dire conditions that present themselves, performance consultant Dr. Rick Jensen told attendees of the Bank Investment and Securities Association in the closing keynote Tuesday.
When a global credit crisis erupts and huge debt hangs over the United States economy threatening a new depression, the way to react is not to react. At least, not emotionally, Jensen said. Instead, to move calmly, rely on past experience and expertise, develop a plan and act confidently.
The key, he said, is to "be more prepared than your competition at addressing adversity.''
In times of financial uncertainty, like the present, the key may well be to help clients figure out how to best retain the assets they have. Preserving value can be as good a goal as expanding value.
People who succeed, in fact, use bad times to learn. So that, the next time, they know how to act -- and who within an organization can be relied on. Managers and employees who thrive on dealing with economic stress are the same ones you want to rely on in times of economic expansion.
Here are some clues for figuring out who in your organization is prepared for the moment. They are individuals who are willing to:
- Try, try again. Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning only won three games in his first year in the league. If he threw two or three interceptions, his coach had him go back in, figuring Manning would figure out how to avoid number four.
- Use what they go through. In Manning's case, coach Jim Mora was confident his player would somehow use the experience to make himself and the team better.
- Make something happen. You can't make something good happen, if you're on the sidelines.
- Get tough. The best time to improve mental toughness is when things are bad. If you're going through hell, Winston Churchill said, just keep going.
- Seek understanding. You can get mentally tough. But if you're not also figuring out what went wrong and how to right it, along the way, there's no point to it.
- Support what they figure out. Find evidence in historical data, other companies' experiences, etc., that show that the corrective action or the opportunity repeats itself.
Jensen, who works with professional athletes as well as businessmen, said tennis champion Ivan Lendl never felt pressure.
"I don't there is any pressure if you do your homework and prepare the best you can,'' was Lendl's reaction to the notion that he faced pressure when he went on the court.
"There is no pressure." if you're prepared, he once said.
And if you're prepared, you're ready to land in the water.
As Sullenberger said, U.S. Airways Flight 1549 had a hard landing on January 15, 2009. The nose came down, turned slightly to the left -- and then the plane stopped.
He turned to his second in command and said, "well, that wasn't as bad as I thought."
Here's a text and video report on Sullenberger's moment, from CBS.
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