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The Power of a Bad Attitude

Thomas Edison, in an effort to discredit his competition, the Westinghouse Co. (it had developed alternating current when he was selling direct current), would hold public demonstrations showcasing the dangers of AC.


July 18, 2007
By Dennis Venturi

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Thomas Edison, in an effort to discredit his competition, the
Westinghouse Co. (it had developed alternating current when he was
selling direct current), would hold public demonstrations showcasing
the dangers of AC. He once publicly electrocuted an elephant to
illustrate his point. Needless to say, and to the mortification of
elephants everywhere, AC went on to become the worldwide current of
choice. It occurs to me that AC is very much like the ‘hazardous
personality profiles’ referred to in Pilot Decision Making courses. PDM
maintains that we all share these hazardous attitudes. Because we all
share these bad attitudes, I would consider it self-evident that the
attitudes themselves are a product of the evolutionary process, and
therefore needed for our continued survival.

Evolutionarily speaking, there must be some occasions when a bad
attitude is needed. For example, how do you survive working for a
company, or a customer, with a poor safety culture? Can the bad
attitude of co-workers be dealt with by using a more positive form of
bad attitudes? Instead of trying to contain and subdue bad attitudes by
giving PDM courses, I say we look at the possibility of rechanneling
these so-called bad attitudes toward the cause of flight safety and
continued survival. Here are the alleged bad attitudes that fuel poor
decision-making:

  • Macho
  • Anti-Authoritative
  • Invulnerable
  • Impulsive
  • Resignation

I remember one PDM course where, as several pilots sat
looking at the inventory of bad attitudes, a somewhat crusty Transport
Canada inspector said: “Except for resignation, that’s pretty much what
you’re looking for when you hire a pilot.” Afterwards, I remember
thinking that he was wrong. Without resignation, most pilots could not
cope with payday. But as a result of his statement, I began to realize
that there are no bad attitudes. There are only badly used attitudes.
I’m going to postulate a new hypothesis that I’ll call “Bad Macho/Good
Macho.”

 


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