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Flying Blind

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Weekly Impact is written for leaders by our Executive Director, Garth Jestley, who has decades of experience in senior leadership roles in the financial services sector. Each week he will share insights on life, leadership and faith.

On a recent west coast trip, I was introduced to “the 178 second rule” by one of our marketplace leaders who serves as chair of a LeaderImpact City Team and leader of one of our groups. He has his own plane and has been ticketed to fly small aircraft for many years.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau published safety advice in 2006 addressing the serious safety concerns when flights operating under visual flight rules fly into “instrument meteorological conditions”; that is, weather conditions that require pilots to fly primarily by reference to instruments. In one of the scariest recordings I have ever heard, they chronicle what happens when pilots become totally disoriented in such conditions. On average they have 178 seconds to live!

As I understand it, visual flight rules require that pilots must be able to see the ground when flying unless (1) they have instrumentation to keep the plane oriented in situations like, for example, flying into cloud and (2) they are ticketed for flying by instrument. Unfortunately, many pilots over the years have gotten into trouble when they unexpectedly found themselves flying blind without instruments. The probability of crashing climbs dramatically.

Navigating through life without a guidance system dramatically increases the probability of failure.

I could not help thinking that most marketplace leaders fly by visual flight rules. That is, they are limited in their dealings with challenging business or personal situations by their five senses – what they can see, hear, feel, taste and smell. In these difficult situations, they use their five senses (including past experiences recorded by the five senses) to navigate. Sooner or later, everyone finds himself or herself navigating life under “instrument meteorological conditions.” Where do we turn?

For the follower of Jesus, the answer is clear. Our lives not only include the five senses given us to navigate the created order. They also incorporate the “sixth sense,” that of God’s presence in our lives and His promises concerning us.

This critical sense derives from our being in relationship with Him. It cannot be conjured up merely by mentally affirming His existence. It comes from turning to Jesus, admitting we need Him and asking Him to take charge. For marketplace leaders, such an admission can be difficult, since we are used to being in charge. That said, the relationship with God that flows from this admission equips us to operate when visual flight rules seem totally inadequate.

Personally, I derive great comfort when navigating in stormy situations from God’s promises, including the following.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him [and her] out of them all. (Psalm 34:19)

How well are you prepared for the inevitable “meteorological flight conditions” of life? We encourage you to try one of our professional peer groups to explore questions like this.

Garth Jestley is a husband, father, grandfather, leader and business executive. Most importantly, he is a follower of Jesus Christ.