I’ve had the good fortune to fly a fair amount as a result of my career and thankfully I am not afraid of flying.
There has only been one time in my flying history that I was genuinely scared. On this particular flight we had hit some serious turbulence, the kind of turbulence where passengers are instructed to put everything away and flight attendants to take their seats.
Within moments there was this frenetic energy within the plane as we were being tossed around and the flight attendants hurried to secure everything in place before taking their seats.
It felt as if we were inside a pen that was being tapped against desk.
My heart raced. My stomach was knotted. My breath was shallow. My whole body was tense as I gripped the armrests. I don’t know what my face looked like but if it was anything like the other passengers, it was expressing terror.
And then something extraordinary happened; I watched one of our flight attendants pick up a magazine and flip through it. I can remember this warm wave of calm wash over me and thinking to myself “well if she’s not nervous/worried, then I shouldn’t be.” Others took notice as well.
And while we weren’t out of trouble yet, there was a sense that we would all be ok. And we were.
Great leadership has a calming affect during disruptive times.