Miracle on the Hudson

This month is the four year anniversary of the “Miracle on the Hudson,” US Airways flight 1549 that landed on the Hudson River after an intake of Canadian geese choked both engines (can you believe it’s been four years?).

It’s not often that you see an Airbus A320 splash down in the Hudson. That wasn’t exactly where they were going. My life isn’t quite as dramatic, but there are plenty of times where I’ve gotten off track and ended up far, far away from where I thought I was going.

Steven Covey talks about staying on track in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families. Three things are essential, he says, a clear vision of where we’re going, a flight plan, and a compass. It would be nice if all we had to do was stay focused at work, but many of us come home to husbands, partners, children, parents and dogs that also need our time and attention. Life, even when it’s really good, can be distracting. A vision can be as simple as visiting a section of your closet that you haven’t seen in a few years. I have a clear vision of myself in those size six corduroys again! I see myself balancing work and family. I see myself moving into a management position.

A flight plan is the way from A to B. US Airways 1549 was headed from New York LaGuardia to Charlotte, North Carolina. Pilots perform a detailed pre-flight check mandated by the FAA that covers airport functionality, weather, routing, aircraft performance, and many, many other things. If I’m really serious about those corduroys I’ll need a flight plan myself. What will I eat, how will I exercise, when will I need motivation, what are my support systems? As the old Chinese proverb says, “Unless we change our direction we are likely to end up where we are headed.”

The third thing Covey mentions is a compass. I’m sure Captain Sullenberger never dreamed he would be navigating the Hudson as a landing strip, but sometimes things happen. Detours, delays, problems, distractions, significant uncontrollable events- it’s just a given that we’ll get off track sooner or later. That’s why a compass is so handy. We need a way to figure out where we are in relation to where we really want to be, and then make adjustments.

Sometimes it seems like I need a “miracle” to stay on track… how do you do it?