The Adaptability Advantage. By Owen Zupp.
The Adaptability Advantage..
Adaptability can prove to be a real advantage in these trying times. The ability to pivot and change direction, even if ever so slightly, can make a substantial difference in these days of the pandemic. It is also a skill that is well worth carrying forward into the future.
I recently gave a keynote on adaptability to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) and it is not the first time the topic has been raised recently. We are all finding upheavals in our lives and the world ahead may look quite different even if we manage to put COVID-19 to rest. For some the change is financial, for others it is personal and for many, it is both.
My harsh lesson came with the collapse of Ansett Australia airlines and the loss of what I perceived as a “job for life”. Sadly, I suspect that such a thing no longer exists and the “40-years-of-service gold watch” has gone the way of the dinosaurs. While I was fortunate to find part-time work as an aviation ground instructor in the wake of the airline’s demise, it was my visit to the unemployment office that still resonates today.
With 10,000 hours of flight experience and numerous other aviation qualifications, I was told that I was, …very highly-skilled – and totally unemployable”. As a career, aviation had not trained me to be adaptable outside of the flight deck. And aviation is not alone in this regard. Our office complexes have evacuation procedures in the event of an emergency and aircraft have a long list of procedures to cope when things change. But outside of that…. not so much.
Ultimately, I was able to gain employment as a pilot again, but those words remained. “Highly skilled and totally unemployable”. Firstly, I set about broadening my educational base, studying for a Master’s Degree. From there, I was involved in consulting and Safety Management Systems. In time, I began to write magazine articles and ultimately, books. It was now that I had found a niche that I was passionate about.
It was important to me that any secondary employment be enjoyable, otherwise in time it would become a grind. After 15 years, I am still enjoying writing, the people, the places, and the experiences that it has brought with it. Still, it was two to three years after the Ansett collapse that I truly found my alternate plan and had become adaptable.
When the Coronavirus pandemic struck and I was stood down from flying, that timeframe had shrunk to two to three days.
Having learned from lessons of the past, I was mentally prepared. Having continued to pursue my passion for writing over the subsequent years, I was current and organised. Moving into the writing space was more of an expansion than an initiation.
I had been forced to be adaptable in 2001 through circumstances beyond my control. While a pandemic was not in my planning, pilots can be vulnerable in their career due to the high medical standards required. A simple gardening accident can lead to a loss of a pilot’s licence. I consider myself fortunate to be adaptable in these uncertain times, but I am far from alone. We all have skills that we can employ elsewhere, or passions that we can escalate. The future will always be an unknown, but with an adaptable mindset, we can all move forward with a greater sense of security.