The Wall Street Journal published an article about the evolution of airplane black boxes. Today’s black boxes are more difficult to find and recover than necessary. In a world with streaming data capabilities, aviation officials are looking for new technology.
Clearly some of the experts are tired of the criticism of their antiquated technology. Here’s a note from The WSJ article:
Tony Tyler, director general of the International Air Transport Association, pushed back against concerns not more progress has been made seven years after the Air France crash. “If it was an easy problem to fix, it would have been fixed,” he said.
I can’t think of a more useless response in this situation. Think about anything that doesn’t exist today. Why doesn’t it exist? It’s either hard to build or do, or not enough people want it. How enlightening.
It’s even more disingenuous in this capacity. Modernizing the black box is an easy thing to do, technologically. The problem is with politics and buy-in. It’s easy to get frustrated when politics and competing interests stand in the way of a better technical solution.
Are you familiar with Tony Robbins, the motivational speaker and performance coach? One of his mantras is “quality questions create a quality life”. You’ll find similar ideas from almost everyone in the personal improvement space.
Why are those ideas ubiquitous? Because they work. They may sound soft and fluffy. They may seem like boring common sense. It’s when you can zoom in on specific instances that their power becomes clearer.
The quote from Tony Tyler above is a perfect instance. If you have a stake in the black box discussion, you can go one of two ways. In one direction, you can justify the status quo and complain about how difficult it is to effect change. In the other direction, you can learn what motivates the various parties and mitigate the risks everyone sees from change.
The black box debate is a great example of what happens when you approach a problem with a particular mindset. These examples are all over the place. You’ll see them at work all the time. Is everyone out to get you? Or is everyone overwhelmed and defensive? How you frame the situation matters.
I’m clearly reading way too much into one comment from Mr. Tyler. He might have fought a super aggressive fight in favor of advanced technologies to replace black boxes. He might have had his teeth kicked in so many times, from so many directions, that he’s resigned to the long slog.
If that’s the case, I wouldn’t blame him a bit. But that’s kind of the point. The reason having a helpful attitude is such a strong competitive advantage is that a helpful attitude is so easy not to have.
Life is hard. Work is hard. Look around you. Tons of people are struggling. Their positive attitudes have gone down the drain. Not everyone, but enough for you to notice.
That’s why it’s important to pull yourself out of a tail spin. Find reasons to be optimistic. Find reasons to give everyone else the benefit of the doubt. If the woo woo self-help stuff is your thing, go after it. If that kind of stuff isn’t your thing, then rely on the pragmatic benefits of positive thinking.
If you resign yourself to the status quo, and make excuses why accomplishing meaningful things is hard, you won’t achieve anything. It seems obvious, but then there are so many people that choose to live that way. A positive attitude is one of the easiest, and most sustainable, competitive advantages you’ll find.