I recently had dinner with a family whose eighteen year old son has a serious fear of flying.  His fear is debilitating to the point where it makes travel near impossible.

Even as a pilot, I’ll confess to having fears.  However, learning to fly has converted virtually all of them into positive awareness of my surroundings, and has given me the essential perspective on how safe aviation really is.  Now, a flight without turbulence is boring and aviation accidents make for intriguing analysis.

During dinner, I fell into pilot mode and was rather insensitive toward how severe such fears can be.  I expressed how safe aviation is but gratuitously talked about specific accidents and disturbing training and cultural trends in the industry–the way we pilots often do.  It fascinates us, but frightens others.

In any position of authority–be it a business leader, politician, or teacher–we lose our position of influence if we alienate customers, colleagues, constituents, or students by losing empathy for them.

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For more on teaching with empathy, check out this 1 minute video:


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