Re-blogged from another source.
I recently watched the movie Sully. Released September 2016.
It is the story of a real life pilot who landed a plane on Hudson river after twin engine failure with all passengers surviving, and yet faces an enquiry committee that is almost determined to pin him down on count of ‘wrong judgement’. In a brilliant portrayal of what the captain and the co-pilot go through before the hearing, both decide to go for a jog in a cold winter night at a still-busy Times Square. And in a moment of profound realization during that jog, the captain (played by Tom Hanks), says something to the co-pilot, that stayed in my mind:
” Over 40 years in the air, but in the end I am going to be judged on 208 seconds”
That was the time it took for the plane to land on the river.
We all have that 208 seconds, that everything about us gets judged on, irrespective of and despite anything we may have done otherwise. It could be that one “no” you said to someone, despite having said a hundred “yes”. It could be that one occasion you slipped on something despite having done something well most other times. It could be that one person you don’t get along with despite having a rapport with so many others. It could be that one phase you couldn’t quite keep up despite being present most other times.
208 seconds is the metaphor for that one behavior, trait or worse just one incident which overrides everything else the person does or is, in deciding the judgement people have of that person.
In cognitive science, these come under the gamut of Halo or Horns effects. That you are blinded by some good or bad aspect of a person that you overlook any negative in the ‘haloed’ person and ignore any good quality in the person with ‘horns’. I was watching some video which said that apparently human mind remembers a negative experience with a person much more than a positive experience. This could be why people are cautious (sometimes to the extent of lunacy) in saying or doing something unpleasant, even if that might be necessary. “Why get into anybody’s bad books?” “People need to say good things about you”.
I think somewhere the focus shifted to being “seen as right” rather than actually doing the right thing.
While I don’t have any studies to quote (maybe there are few out there), but most subconscious hard-wiring of humans usually pertain to safety: physical in stone age and psychological in today’s times. Is it possible that we are tuned to remembering bad experiences much more than good experiences so that we can “steer clear” of a repetition next time, thereby keeping us safe physically and psychologically?
Stay away from this person in office, he is usually too blunt; or let us not risk this project for this person, she didn’t do well last time. Or like in the movie, it appeared that the committee was almost scared to admit that a pilot’s judgement in such a critical juncture was more reliable than machine simulations – after all, you can predict results with machines, but how do you do that with humans?
So all these signals from our brains, to stay away from people and situations, keeps us safe, but in a primitive sort of way. Unfortunately, they also keep us away from life’s best gifts.
Would you lose a friend who was with you in the worst and best of times, just because you hit one rough patch; just because that phase was unpleasant you will give up on the very amazing times you can spend together when things are better? Would you lose an employee who has one quality at loggerheads with the organization, but many others that contribute so much?
I don’t know if we can stop anyone else from judging us by our 208 seconds. But we can change things by changing the way we judge others.
Next time we write-off someone, maybe can we pause and ask ourselves these questions..
- What about this bothers me so much?
- Is it really that big an issue, or am I exaggerating it in my mind?
- What are “bests” of that person, and are they far more than this one quality, which is overwhelming me at this point in time?
- Am I also fallible to the same fault? So can I forgive the other person?
- Am I unable to distinguish between what the person “did” and who the person “is”?
It appears to me that the universe wanted all of its creation to survive and therefore we have these in-built “safety” rules that help us play it “safe”. But the universe has also reserved prized treasures for those who can go beyond these “safe zone” and risk breaking hard-wired patterns of thinking. Treasures of great adventure, real trust, true friendship and boundless happiness.
The choice is clear. I can stay safe from hurt. Or I can risk getting hurt to get something much deeper – a true, though sometimes eccentric soul-mate, a creative – though sometimes maverick employee, a solid – though sometimes irritating friend.
Choice is ours. 208 seconds can get us a safe water-landing.
To fly, we need to go beyond.