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How to Win

Distracted Flying

So it turns out that focus was at the heart of the Northwest flight that overflew the Minneapolis airport by 150 miles.

According to the pilots themselves, they were busy with laptops while in command of a San Diego to Minneapolis trip.

This sounded a lot like distracted driving to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

“We’re not going to equivocate on this,” LaHood told a Senate hearing. “Any kind of distraction, whether it’s trains, planes or automobiles is a distraction and we should figure out ways to get these cell phones, the texting, … and the use of laptops out of the hands of people who are supposed to be delivering the public to somewhere safely.”

Public safety aside, there’s the basic question of focus. If flying a plane won’t get someone to pay attention, then how hard must it be for a coach or an athlete to stay locked in for a practice or for a game?

If not even life or death can lead someone to focus, then how can mere skill-building or winning and losing compete for anyone’s attention?

Look at it this way: Imagine the advantage you will have if you can simply concentrate on what you are doing. It sounds so easy, but it’s not. The pilots proved that.

Sports psychologist Dr. Rob Gilbert says, “Keep your mind on what you’re doing while you’re doing it.”

Malcolm S. Forbes puts it another way: “Presence is more than just being there.”

Being physically present at practice is a good start, but nothing more than that. You must also be mentally and emotionally present.

LaHood said the Federal Aviation Administration is looking at the issue of laptops and other personal electronic devices in the cockpit.

“We can’t have these kinds of distractions in the cockpit. We can’t,” he said.


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