We’re gonna do a go-around

Doing a go-around.

In aviation lingo, a “go-around” refers to what is basically a redo for an aborted landing attempt. This can happen for several reasons including; traffic on the runway, weather, faulty approach, landing gear issues, etc. and is a decision made by the pilot or air traffic control for the safety of all involved.

I recently experienced a go-around on a flight to visit my daughter in Charlotte. We were just about to touch down when the aircraft accelerated and we started to climb again.

It was several minutes before the pilot came over the radio and announced: “sorry about that folks, we had some traffic on the runway, so we’re going to “go-around” and should be on the ground in a few minutes.”

Being from an aviation background, I have a bit more knowledge about air travel than the average person, yet I still occasionally get nervous on flights and will often reach out to pilot/family members with questions.

In this case, I posted my go-around experience on Facebook (where one is assured of a wide variety of reactions) and my niece, who happens to be a pilot for a major airline reminded me that pilots are trained for this kind of thing and “go-arounds” while seemingly uncommon to passengers, aren’t a big deal.

A friend of mine who was a flight attendant in a former life, added that that the hardest part of the go-around for the crew, was not knowing the reason for it while it was happening.

While I, and most of the other passengers, would have preferred to know what was going on immediately, there was a good reason for the pilot waiting until we were at a safe altitude before making his announcement.

Take-offs and landings are two of the most labor-intensive phases of flying and he was focusing on the task at hand and prioritizing our safety as he was trained.

I’m not sure how the other passengers processed this rather unusual landing, but I have a tendency to do a lot of soul searching while up in the air (another side effect of my aviation background.) In this case, the go-around landing and led to an “aha moment” for me. 

In the non-aviation world, we can learn a lot from the “go-around” and surely we can apply it to others situations resulting in better outcomes.

A perfect example presented itself shortly after my arrival in Charlotte.

After making my way through the airport, I met my daughter at the passenger pick-up for the ride back to her home. Mere minutes after arriving, I started tidying up her kitchen.

I thought I was being helpful but she felt I was being judgmental of her housekeeping. Was this perhaps the “wrong approach?”

Instead of launching immediately into “mom clean up mode,” housekeeping could have waited. I decided to do a “go-around,” delay the kitchen wipe-down and focus on more important things, like catching up with her, asking about her job and her new home, etc. Aha!

How often have we “approached” a situation too quickly only to have a bad outcome? How many times do we fail to consider all the factors that may affect how we interact with others?

When dining out, are peak hours the best time to complain to a restaurant manager about poor service? Or would better results be obtained by waiting to call or email the next day?

Is the end of a hectic day ideal for discussing the broken dishwasher, sick dog or that weird sound the car is making with your spouse – or could those concerns wait until you’ve both decompressed a bit?

When experiencing a delay in getting a prescription filled, is being impatient with the pharmacy going to get the medication approved by your health insurance any faster?

Those long lines at the drive-thru pharmacy are aggravating for sure. Imagine the stress the employees feel.

And how many of us will admit to rolling our eyes, tapping our foot or otherwise showing our impatience as an obviously new employee struggles to find a menu item on the cash register? Usually, these are young people at their first job.

Does acting annoyed do anything to encourage them to keep trying? Once again, the approach is everything. An encouraging smile or “no worries, take your time” will make a huge difference in their workday. You’ll get your latte and bagel soon enough.

I could write book describing the antics impatient people exhibit while driving. I admit to having been both the “slowpoke” and the “traffic weaver” and it’s fair to say that neither approach significantly affects arrival time.

Getting angry with another driver never results in a good outcome. At best, your blood pressure goes up, at worst, someone gets hurt. Better to let it go and arrive safely at your destination than to show that slowpoke driver just how fast you can pass them.

And let’s face it, we’ve all been the “out of towner” looking for an address, or the “late for work” speedster on occasion.

There are endless situations we face each day that would benefit from a “go-around.”  Being mindful of how we approach these interactions will most always result in a better “landing” – in flying and in everyday life.

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