This article is probably going to seem a bit weird to you, but it’s more or less of a gut check. However it does apply if you are a student pilot or all the way up to an airline pilot. Getting your license or flying for a living requires a certain skill set, that skill set has to be learned and then practiced. Not everyone has it, which is fine. To be a little humble, its really not that hard to learn to fly, its something most people can learn. When I was an instructor, I taught lots of people how to fly. In all of those people, I only had to turn one person away and tell them they were not cut out for flying. In fact it was not their flying mechanics so much as it was their ability to make decisions and take charge. So if you are thinking your all that and a little bit more, its not your flying, its the decision making qualities and leadership qualities that make up a skilled pilot. So what am I getting at?
Somewhere, and I am not sure when or how, pilots somehow get this entitlement notion. Society does not help with it either because we are constantly groomed to believe we “deserve” something. We are bombarded with this tidbit of human nature by companies that try to sell us products. Our culture loves to foster these notions in us. During the 1970′s, McDonald’s restaurants built an entire ad campaign around the slogan, “You deserve a break today.”*
In the 1980′s, another ad campaign said, “Pamper yourself with Calgon.” *
In the 1990′s, it was “You owe it to yourself to buy a Mercedes Benz.” *
Society continues to bombard us with the message that we are such fantastic people, we are entitled to an equally fantastic way of living.
Entitlement is a serious problem with our airline pilots today. After a career time of learning how to act special the entitlement factor has grown legs and sprouted into a ravenous beast. One of its manifestations is through pilot unions such as ALPA. Entitlement makes ones believe that we should have some sort of control or that we are “owed” something. The problem is that entitlement is a self serving one way street that does not lead to anything good. Somewhere we went haywire with thinking we deserve anything. Some may begin to argue with this because:
- “I was treated poorly, and I did not deserve it”
- “I did them a favor and they did not reciprocate”
- “our pay is the lowest in the industry”
- “we deserve protections so that our career goals have a reasonable expectation”
I harbor this statement: “I do not deserve anything” If you can wrap your arms around that, I guarantee your career will be much more enjoyable. I realize my opinion is highly unpopular, in fact I warn people that push me on union opinions that mine is very very unpopular. I am not the humblest pilot or man on the earth, but I do long to be. Chasing after entitlements in the airline industry is like chasing after the wind.
I am not saying roll over and take what any company will give you. You can make reasonable requests for better pay and better benefits, that is being responsible. But I think the key is to not focus on what were owed but to enjoy where you are, that is hard lesson to learn. (it has taken me about 20 years to grasp this).
Just keep this in mind, if there are thousands of guys available to replace you, then perhaps your really not that special. Everyone wants to be around a humble pilot, those are the ones that have other peoples (and passengers and crew) best interests in mind. No one wants to be around the guy (or gal) who is self centered, its just a crappy way of going through life. Knowing that you sometimes have to swim in the opposite direction is the key to overcoming the entitlement factor, don’t be a lemming, don’t run with the crowd, stand out and be a leader, that’s what you stand for right?
* Quoted from the book “The Truths We Must Believe” by Dr. Chris Thurman.