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Deliberate Practice

The Power of Preparation

Yesterday’s “Miracle on the Hudson,” in which an airline pilot safely landed a  jet in the river between New York and New Jersey, illustrates a point about peak performance:

You never know when you are going to need a skill that you work on in practice.

If you’ve ever flown, you know that the cabin crew goes over the safety procedures before each flight. They tell you where the exits are, how to retrieve a flotation device in case of a water landing, and how to use an oxygen mask if the plane loses cabin pressure.

When you look around the cabin during this presentation, you’ll see that most passengers are not paying attention. The more experience the passengers have, the more likely they are to be reading or listening to music while this speech is going on.

Here’s the problem with that: Everyone knows that these emergency procedures are not going to be necessary on every single flight. But no one knows exactly which flight will be the one when the information becomes vital.

Yesterday it did.

The plane crash-landed into the Hudson River on a bitterly cold day, and passengers who moments earlier had been reading or listening to music suddenly found themselves standing on a wing in the middle of a river.

Fortunately, no one died. But the point remains:

You never know when the skills you work on are going to be needed. And so you must work on them with all of your ability.


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