The Iceberg Principle. By Owen Zupp.
The iceberg principle is not a new concept and considers that 90 per cent of an iceberg sits unseen below the surface – only 10 per cent being readily visible. The concept can be easily applied to all manner of human endeavours and is everywhere we look if we take the time.
I have often been caught off-guard when a child says, “Look, there’s a pilot!” I always smile, wave and when possible, engage in a chat. However, there’s always been a part of me that’s been a touch embarrassed, for pilots are just the tip of the iceberg. Before any airliner leaves the ground, an immense team provides the support structure for this to happen. From engineers to flight planners, cabin crew to load controllers – the list goes, but no six-year-old has the time for that.
When the QANTAS 747 drew the kangaroo in the sky off the east coast of Australia, it took around 90 minutes. However, the inspiration, the team on the ground and the rehearsals in the simulator were weeks in the creation.
Considering another perspective, in the event of an aircraft accident, the strewn wreckage and the pilot’s final actions are the lead components of any coverage. However, we have for decades known that often the pilot is merely the final element in a chain of events – causal factors that sat below the surface.
The iceberg principle extends well beyond aviation. We see the masterpiece hanging on the gallery wall but not the years of toil or the imperfect canvases left dormant in the studio. We witness the athlete’s prowess on the sporting field or the celebration on the podium but the lonely hours training on a country road or the frustrating weeks of physical rehabilitation are overlooked.
It is to our detriment to dismiss what cannot be immediately seen for it is in this region that the greatest learning and improvement can take place. It is here that mistakes are made and here that there is time for contemplation and reflection. In that visible 10 per cent when we are called to perform or display our particular skill, there is little time for anything other than the execution. Additionally, when recognised, we must also have the humility to recognise that we are the tip of the iceberg and only kept buoyant by the greater mass keeping us afloat.
None of this detracts from our efforts but it is the effort that we should truly value rather than the accolades. We seem to live in an era when the instantly visible is designed to attract our time-poor attention span. Hence, it falls to us as individuals to pause and look more deeply into the headline or consider the words spoken by a perceived authority.
We need our icebergs – they are things of beauty and awe. However, if we fail to consider why they are in our line of sight, they can also sink us with devastating effect.
Stay safe everyone.