Success Rule: Never Underestimate the Importance of Minor Decisions in Life.

BEFORE I START TO TELL YOU ABOUT THE importance of small things in both life and business, let’s look into history first. It was Aug.31, 1983, a nice warm day in Alaska.

A Boeing 747 was parked at Anchorage International Airport. It was getting ready to fly to Seoul an eight-hour flight. Pilot Chun Byung-in and Co-Pilot Son Dong-Hwin climbed into the cockpit of the plane. It was to ferry 269 passengers including them.

They settled in their seats and initiated a routine of setting up the black box before the plane left the airport. One of them read out the latitude and longitude of the current parked location of the jet at the airport while the other punched those numbers into the plane’s computer.

The punching was done by pressing squarish keys on a black box on the console between their seats. The numbers punched keyboard was displayed up in the narrow plastic window along the top edge of a system box called Inertial Navigation System (INS), a system used as an inertial navigation system.

The routine was done and the plane took off. Some time into the flight, the plane accidentally flew into Russian Airspace where it was shot down by Soviet fighter jets. What followed was a nine-minute plunge into the Pacific Ocean with loud screams of passengers onboard. Everyone on board perished into the depths of the ocean.

An international inquiry was instituted to look into the cause of the tragedy. The agencies shared their detailed report with the authorities. The conclusion: Minor human error.

One of the agency reports stated that the plane drifted off course and strayed into Soviet air space because a number was read out wrong or was punched in wrong and was not observed as wrong when it showed up in the display window of the INS.

The International Civil Aviation Organization, in its final report too supported the theory that a wrong number was punched into the computer before the jet’s engines were started:

Experts believed that because of lack of alertness and attentiveness a minor error happened, a crew member punched 3 rather than 4 on the INS keyboard, telling the computer that its starting point was a longitude of 139 degrees west rather than 149 degrees west, an undetected error of 10 degrees. The computer had no way to check whether the humans had given it the exact starting point by punching the correct keys.

ICAO concluded that punching one wrong key unit in the cockpit could have been enough to guide the 747 along the wrong path. The plane possibly came within the view of the Soviet fighter jet, as clouds obscured the moon and made identification of the South Korean plane difficult and the Soviet pilot believed that he was shooting at an intruding intelligence plane.

At first, punching a wrong number or sway of 10 degrees may not seem that significant. However, continuing on the same course, 10 degrees took that plane further and further away from where it really wanted to go and ultimately flew into Soviet air space.

But the tragedy also created a cloud of doubt and changed the diplomatic relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union. The United States went ahead with its plan to deploy cruise missiles in Europe, prompting the Soviet Union to terminate nuclear arms-control negotiations with the Reagan administration.

In retrospect, a minor error committed by a finger hitting the wrong button and subsequent non-correction of the deviation not only led to the KAL tragedy but also deteriorated the Washington-Moscow relationship.

Never underestimate the importance of minor decisions and small things in life. Even though the error was committed, it could have been rectified only if the two crew members were alert, aware, and attentive enough to make slight adjustments leading to course correction.

Now, let’s scan your life. In life, you set a destination, a goal, a direction where you want to steer your life. You are the Pilot of your own life, the choices that you make every day, the small decisions, and the actions that you take every day are the Black Box of your life. The black box will then drive the computer (your brain) and the brain being the CEO will ultimately chart the course of your life.

Getting where you want to be in life comes down to one thing:  Your Choices! Always remember this “Your choices determine your destiny.”

What are Choices? They are nothing but the decision that you make every day, and these decisions are often small, seemingly unimportant ones. Success in life is always found in the small, daily decisions that you make.

The majority of people create goals or set new year resolutions in life and studies time and again have shown that the majority of them won’t keep them?

Why? What Happens? Let’s understand.

For Example, your Goals are:

Lose 20 Kgs in 1 year.

Eat healthily.

Write a book in 1 Year.

Save XX Amount per year.

Next, you need a way to ensure you remain on track for your goal; So, you set performance goals that mark the pathway to the goal. These are the milestones that you from to continuously improve and stay on track. These are the daily routine or habits you need to develop to achieve your goal over time. Examples of performance goals include:

Going to the gym each day.

Doing work out for 30 minutes.

Not eating junk food.

Doing 50 push-ups daily

Writing 1,000 words per day.

You then begin your journey with lots of enthusiasm. Very soon as the initial euphoria subsides, you will start drifting away from your goals. You will miss one workout, which will then lead to two, then three and eventually you will stop going to the Gym.

One day you will gouge on junk food and soon it will turn into two and then three and then you are back to eating unhealthy food.

One fine day you will miss out on your writing, which will then lead to two, then three days of skipping leading to giving up writing.

See the pattern here: you slowly drift away from the path where you wanted to go.

Now let me connect it to the above analogy. When you have a bad day, you missed a workout, cheated on your diet, skipped a day of writing, etc. They are the 10-degree deviation, the error being fed into your black box unknowingly.

The black box in turn will impact your brain leading to hijack. Now, being a pilot all you need to do is to be aware and attentive to the error that has happened and — stop and think, and make an adjustment. Move away from the deviation. Get back on course! Keep moving, keep going, keep making adjustments. Small little timely adjustments will again lead you to be back on the track. Continue making the right decisions and get back to the path you know you want to be on!

Always being alert, being attentive, being aware is the mantra to ensure no minor error seeps into the black box of your life, which in turn will ensure that the flight of your success does not crash.

Happy flying to destination success!

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