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Friday, December 10, 2010

Is a job well done its own reward?

Throughout the ages people have been known for what they do.  In some cultures, surnames are a direct reflection of their profession.   Cooper, the barrel maker, is a good example.  Status has traditionally been given to certain professionals like doctor, pilot, attorney, pastor and in some cases political leaders.  Lately the latter has almost become an epithet.  Usually the status bestowed on these vocations is derived from the amount of education and experience the person must have to participate in that profession.  Therefore, a certain amount of prestige and adoration is awarded just from the title or position.  This generalization is the source of disappointment when individuals don’t live up to the perceived reputation of the group.

Is what people do or how they do it the source of self esteem?  Airline pilots are easily identifiable, almost exclusively because of the uniform. Does the influence of their position exist simply because the pilot is wearing enough of the uniform to be identifiable as a pilot?  Is is because he carries o license ?Or, does the manner in which the uniform is worn or the license used say anything?

Airline crews, as a group, are some of the most experienced hotel guests in the world.  There are extensive negotiations between airlines and their crews on the subject of overnight accommodations.  Details are important when you spend a dozen or more nights a month in a hotel.  The condition of a hotel room has a profound influence on the experience and enjoyment of the guest.   A well made bed.  Conspicuous cleanliness.  Neatly arranged amenities.  Plentiful and well presented towels.  These all contribute to the quality of the hotel experience.  The maid responsible for that experience is seldom noticed.  However, not a lot of prestige is given to the occupation of hotel maid.  They are, and should be, invisible.

The same, for the most part, should be true of pilots.  The better they do their job, the less noticeable they should be.  Except of course for the obligatory brief and well articulated announcement.  So where does the prestige come from?  It comes not from what he does, but how he does it.  Passengers expect to arrive safely.  Safety is not a goal or aspiration, it is an obligation. Passengers would also like to be on time with a comfortable flight.  The highest praise that can be given a pilot is that the flight was uneventful.  Corporate pilots understand this concept or they don't keep their position very long.

The prestige and self esteem of a pilot comes one flight at a time.  Knowing that his passengers arrived safely and comfortably at their destination through his skill, engagement and attention to detail is its own reward.  Like the inconspicuous hotel maid, pilots are paid for what they do and respected for how they do it.

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