I have been very fortunate to have been conducting the IA renewal seminars for the past 18 years. To be surrounded by that much talent and experience in one room is truly a privilege and an honor. It is without question, my most difficult training challenge to deliver substance to this elite group of professionals. In a light hearted jovial demeanor I will often begin by asking a question: “Who in here is complacent?” Never in all the years of using this opener, have I ever had anyone raise their hand or acknowledge they were complacent. I’ll follow up with “Come on, nothing to be ashamed of, who in here is complacent?” Again, never has anyone ever raised their hand. When the next question is “Has anyone ever screwed something up in aviation?” Oddly enough, most if not all hands go straight up in the air with vigor.
From a psychologist perspective one has to ask the question why this group of professionals waste no time openly admitting to mistakes, yet after two opportunities to acknowledge themselves as complacent not one single hand? Although I am no physiologist; I have to assume its because we do NOT see ourselves as complacent.
I am of the opinion, we are all complacent, the only real question is where all are we complacent, and how complacent have we become. Forget for a moment there might even be a remote possibility we are complacent within aviation, let’s take a look at the home front. Is there a chance we might have become complacent with our loved ones? Have we missed opportunities to say “I Love You”, or “I am Proud of You” to those kids we so quickly scold for misbehaving, or not living up to their responsibilities. Any missed opportunity to say “Thank You” to parents, or spouses?
Try telling yourself you have become complacent in your dental hygiene. You tell me if it doesn’t force you brush a little longer or more frequently. Tell yourself you have become complacent in your driving techniques, and see if this acknowledgement and acceptance doesn’t cause you to step up to a higher standard.
The area or subject you chose is irrelevant. What I find refreshing is the maturity to accept and acknowledge we are complacent. On a personal basis, I have yet to pick a subject or area where I have told myself I am, and have become complacent that did not yield an improvement or enhancement.
There is a negative connotation associated with the word “Complacent”. And I don’t think complacency is on anyone’s top ten list of goals for 2015. But think for a minute about the close relationship between “Complacency” and “Content”. They are like first cousins and “Content” is a goal, we all want to be content, don’t we? Content implies we have arrived, and no more effort or struggles are required, we are right where we want to be.
For myself, I have attempted to develop a dual personality, Buddy in aviation, and Buddy away from aviation. In aviation, I tell myself I am complacent in everything I do. For me this approach generates an energy that forces a re-evaluation and opens my peripheral vision to see things in a broader scope. Additionally, I hone in on the details more acutely. Within aviation I believe it is imperative that our desire to improve has to far outweigh our natural instinct to be “Content”.
This thing called complacency is a very difficult subject to broaden our knowledge base on simply because there is so little published. Nevertheless, if we shoot our root cause analysis down one more layer beyond:
• poor communication skills
• failure to use the manufacturers maintenance manual
its not that we don’t know how to communicate accurately or use the manufacturers maintenance manuals, but complacency to often surfaces to be the common denominator.
I am certainly interested in your comments and suggestion to detect and combat complacency.
Please allow me to Thank You for your continued contribution to the Safety of Flight