Making important deposits

While air travel is generally safe, aviation accidents still occur.  When civil airplanes go down, we are jolted by the news. Loss of life is often the result.  We are shocked at the news because over time we have become lulled into a sense of security by the remarkable safety records of an ever-improving industry. By boarding planes that regularly take off and land without incident, we have become somewhat desensitized to the wonder and also the danger of flight. We board planes as we would trains or ships or buses.

The "Miracle on the Hudson" on January 15, 2009, then, was all the more amazing for the fact that a fully-loaded commercial airliner crash-landed in a New York river and all 155 people aboard survived.

Captain Chesley Burnett "Sully" Sullenberger is the celebrated pilot of US Airways Flight 1549 who successfully ditched the Airbus A320 into the cold water of the Hudson River after a flock of birds disabled both engines.

Recounting the incident, he said something worth noting:
 "One way of looking at this might be that for 42 years, I've been making small, regular deposits in this bank of experience, education and training. And on January 15 the balance was sufficient so that I could make a very large withdrawal."

His series of "deposits" over the years saved 155 lives on that January day. 

This powerful idea of deposits and withdrawals was championed by author and motivational speaker Stephen Covey when he used the metaphor of the "emotional bank account."  It's the concept that if we consciously make regular, purposeful contributions to a relationship, then when a crisis happens,  the size of that accumulated deposit,  measured in earned trust (or in professional skill in this case), makes all the difference to a successful outcome.

Captain Sullenberger's words are a good reminder: may we all make deposits in the things that really matter to us.


1. The photo is courtesy of Wikimedia under creative commons terms. The reference is here.

2. Captain Sullenberger's quote appears in this AARP magazine article referring to a conversation with journalist Katie Couric.

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