Adjust your trim - Lessons in leadership from Concorde

By Eduard Marmet [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Eduard Marmet [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

One of my favourite stories told by my father, was of his time working on the prototype of Concorde – the stunning, futuristic supersonic airliner.   Dad was working for aircraft manufacturer BAC at Filton near Bristol when the second prototype Concorde 002 first flew in 1969. 

The wings of an aircraft produce lift, and the focal point of that lift – the place where the imaginary string would attach that lifts the plane into the air – is called the centre of pressure or lift point.  If the lift point coincides with the centre of gravity of the plane it makes the whole thing easier to fly and control.   When Concorde 002 flew the test pilot noticed that the handling of the aircraft change significantly during the flight. The engineers soon realised this was due to the centre of gravity of the plane ‘moving’ as the weight of the fuel in the tanks changed as the jet fuel was consumed.  The solution to the problem was to pump the fuel around the various tanks in the plane to keep it balanced – but how could the pilot know ‘where’ the centre of gravity was on the plane in order to know what fuel to shift where?  This was my father’s job – to invent a centre-of-gravity-o-meter which the pilot could use from the cockpit.

All planes need adjustments during flight – this is called adjusting the ‘trim’ and it helps keep the aircraft balanced and on course.

The pilot keeps adjusting the trim of the aircraft, tilting the nose up or down, steering the rudder left or right to take into account the winds that are blowing on the plane, any turbulence the plane is passing through and changes in the aircraft itself as fuel is consumed and the metal of the aircraft heats up and expands or cools and contracts.  The pilot knows the destination they are aiming for and keeps on making the necessary corrections and adjustments in order to get there.  You could say it is the same with us- during turbulent times, when winds of change are blowing, when the heat is on – we need to make adjustments to our behaviour and plans if we want to stay on course.  We need to keep adjusting our trim.

In John Maxwell’s 15 Laws of Growth, John talks about the Law of Intentionality.  He says growth does not just happen – it is not an automatic process.  If we want to grow, to improve, if we want to better ourselves and our circumstance and change our situation – we have to do something about it – it wont happen by itself.  And it won’t ever be a single thing we need to do – it will be a process that may take days, weeks or even months to achieve the improvements and changes we desire.  And while we are on that journey – we will need to keep adjusting our trim in order to stay on course.  And by adjusting our trim I mean adjusting our scheduling, keeping our focus and ensuring we are on course to achieve what we desire.  I find that having a clear set of goals and priorities written down really helps.

I’ve just finished an upgrade to my popular course on Goals that will help you avoid the 3 mistakes people often make when setting goals. During the course I will share how goals can help you clarify your priorities and take back control of your schedule, why we set goals that are easy but still fail to achieve them and also reflect on how we get changed by the goals we set – using an example from my own life involving a TV talent show.  I’m sure you will find it as interesting and useful as I did when I first learned these principles.

When I first developed this course on Goals, it was an audio only course but the new version has been upgraded to be a video course with improved and expanded teaching. (You can also download the new course as an mp3 if you want to listen to it on your phone or MP3 player as well) I’m pleased with it and I hope you will find it useful.  The course is still free and you can enrol right now by going to www.cool-waters.co.uk/goals   

One of the things I love about my job as a coach and trainer, is that I am always learning new things that help me to grow and improve – even on subjects where I thought I already knew all I needed to know.