I’m currently reading 2 books. (Actually, I’m reading one and listening to another.) The first book (Highest Duty) is about Captain Chesley Sullenberger. He’s the airline pilot that successfully made an emergency landing in the Hudson river after engine failures caused by bird strikes. The second book (A Captain’s Duty) is about Captain Richard Phillips. He was the captain of the container ship Maersk Alabama that was taken captive by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean.
Each book tells a story of leadership during extraordinary circumstances. In both accounts, I’m struck how each leader had prepared themselves for their moment in history. When their historic moments came, they had already been prepared.
Both of these captains were responsible for the successful operation of expensive machinery, as well as for the lives of the people aboard those machines. In each volume, the captain talks about how they trained their crew or considered scenarios that could go wrong, in preparation for were that scenario happened to them.
Captain Sullenberger and Captain Phillips each seemed to have a sense of responsibility (a duty, as suggested in the title of each book) to be prepared to lead well, no matter what circumstance presented itself. I think that’s also true for us as well. While we may not be piloting commercial aircraft or large cargo container ships, we too are responsible for leading well in our families, in the places we work, and in our communities.
These captains had taken the time to prepare themselves, through learning, repetition, and thought, long before these critical events demanded their leadership. So, when the moment arose, they were ready.
It seems there’s a lesson in their stories for us. We should continue to sharpen our knowledge and abilities in the areas where we are considered leaders. That way, when our leadership is called on, we’ll be ready too.