The Mission like a movie
Continuing our series on Fighter Pilot Wisdom, here is Ran Ronen, one of the most celebrated combat fliers and commanders (he died in 2016 as a retired brigadier general) in the history of the Israel Air Force.
Preparing for these missions, I would hole myself up in the operations bunker and go over every detail of the coming flight. This is not like studying for exams. You are running the mission like a movie through your mind, anticipating every possible emergency, then planning and mentally rehearsing your response.
But preparation was more, Ran continued, than rehearsing for predictable exigencies.
A fighter pilot accelerating down the runway on an operational mission must keep foremost in his mind one reality: at some point before his wheels touch down again, something is certain to go wrong. Will he have an engine failure? Will an unseen enemy appear? Will another plane in his formation experience a crisis of some kind? Bank on it: Something unexpected will happen. When it does, it will be followed almost always by a second emergency, and often a third, in immediate succession, each one producing a graver crisis than the one before. In such a situation, the pilot’s body will exhibit all the manifestations of fear. His heart rate will soar; his flight suit will become drenched with sweat. But his mind must remain focused. His thinking must stay clear and calm.
You and I, embarking on a two- or three-year creative or entrepreneurial project, can count on the same thing happening. Unexpected Emergency #1 will materialize, followed immediately by our own Panicked Reaction #1, which in turn produces Unexpected Emergency #2, leading inevitably to Freaked-out Overreaction #2.
Can we stay calm in the midst of crisis? Can we keep thinking clearly and working at our optimum level?
I’m in the midst of a similar situation right now. An external event with super-negative twists and turns is afflicting me emotionally every day, even pursuing me into my dreams at night. Indeed I am freaking out. Indeed my daylight hours are full of crazed phone calls and emergency consultations.
But one thing remains inviolable. I will not stop working on the book I’m writing now. And I will not stop working to my fullest capacity.
That’s the mission, and I will keep flying it no matter what.
And here’s the weird part. In some crazy way, I think the book I’m working on is actually coming out better.
I keep this wisdom from Ran Ronen before me 24/7. It helps.