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Feature Article: Learning From Your Mistakes
A mistake is painful because we have been conditioned to experience
humiliation and shame. We expect ourselves to be able to perform.
When we don't or can't, our internal critics tell us that we should
be able to do better. Where an external critic adds to the internal
embarrassment we react with fear that all such mistakes will recreate
the emotional trauma.
Perhaps the biggest mistake in the exercise of good judgment is
a failure to hear the voice of your own experience. Your own experiences
are not just what happens to you, it's what you believe about
what has happened to you. Your life experience at play or work
has prepared you for many of the coming flights. Already you have
had to unlearn, practice, study, relearn, and forget. You are
about to relive your life experiences again. A mistake is an opportunity
to find what works for you--and what doesn't. Recovery from a
mistake should give you a good feeling. You have recovered, learned
and reflected. All of which will make you a better pilot.
When a pilot enters a situation with uncertainty the chances are
that his flying skills will be lessened. He will be spending at
least some brain cycles dealing with stress and the fears caused
by the uncertainty. Being told to relax by the instructor is not
going to help. Your ability to cope will only be achieved by exposure
and experience. The unexpected is always present as part of learning
to fly. Keep your priorities in order, fly the plane FIRST, navigate
and then communicate. You won't learn from your mistakes if you
fail to acknowledge it as 'yours'. Denial of your part in creation
of a flying mistake will only cause it to be repeated. The most
dangerous flying mistake is the one you 'get away' with perhaps
by not recognizing it as a mistake.
Flying is an art that takes knowledge, time, intensity, concentration
and self-discipline. In the beginning there are likely to be deficiencies
in knowledge and self-discipline. There will be excesses of intensity
and concentration. A student's perception of success and failure
is often based upon erroneous assumptions. Making mistakes is
part of the process. Asking questions is part of the process.
Being upset with yourself and the instructor is part of the process.
A mistake is not a failure. It is a survivable learning experience.
The worse thing that can arise from a mistake in judgment or performance
is for the person to believe that he can 'get away' with it again.
Making mistakes is the "wake up call" part of the learning/flying
process. Mistakes are not an enemy of learning. A recognized mistake
is a learning success. Think of a flying mistake as an experiment
that failed to produce the desired result. With each mistake/experiment
you can eliminate procedures that don't produce desired results.
The art of making flying mistakes is to turn them into tools of
learning and prevention. Efficiency in learning is through remembering
the results of your experiments. Student mistakes are what instructors
see best. This instructor critiques student mistakes to make sure
the cause, effect, and solution become apparent to the student.
Instructor "mistakes" are deliberate efforts to see
if the student is paying attention. Yeah!
The opportunity to make mistakes without fear of harm is an important
part of the training process. I prefer to let flying mistakes
develop in the process of flight training at least to the point
of student awareness. I will then, if conditions allow, take a
moment to discuss the cause, result and correction. I re-establish
the mistake situation and help the student work it out more safely.
Otherwise, I save the problem for ground discussion and a next
flight review. On occasion, I will deliberately create a situation
that calls upon the student to correct a mistake. The safe correction
of a potential problem is another essential student skill. All
good instructors let their students make mistakes. All good instructors
do not allow a specific mistake to become habitual or even occasional.
When an instructor tells you of a mistake, resist the urge to
defend yourself or deny that a problem exists. Assume your critic
to be right and of having the best of intentions to help you.
Learn to live with all your mistakes, especially flying mistakes,
without suffering. Use your internal critic to alert you of a
coming mistake, but don't allow it to influence your stress level.
Always, the instructor's premise is that you can do better next
Self-analysis of your flying is important. Develop a curiosity
about what part went right until it went wrong. Do this in terms
of where you feel weak, deficient, or insecure. Look for your
mistakes. A few minutes reading, a short instructional flight,
or a solo flight directed to a specific area is money and time
well spent. If anxiety exists but you are uncertain as to the
area or cause, take a flight review. Proficiency is the best flying
insurance policy. You may not know what you don't know, but when
you do know there is something you don't know, get help. When
you are working to do every-thing right it is never boring.
You will better understand a difficulty or flying mistake by getting
feedback from other pilots. Share your experiences and listen
to similar experiences shared by others. You will never be able
to create a unique flying mistake. Go back to your instructor
and review the series of events from beginning to end. This changes
a critic into a mentor. In a single-pilot operation, you know
there's no one else to remind you so you pay closer attention,
or at least you should.
There are good mistakes. A good mistake leads you into finding
a better way of solving or avoiding a subsequent mistake. Not
every solution will work. Share your solutions. Don't try to re-invent
the wheel. Seek the opinion of others and alternate solutions.
Read as much as your time allows about the experiences and mistakes
of other flyers. Read their post-mistake advice. The advice that
is given to others is wiser than the advice we give to ourselves.
The objectivity of a story about a mistake allows others to see
why specific mistakes are made and how they can be avoided. The
highest level of learning is when students benefit from the experience
Last Modified May 26, ©2016 TAGE.COM