Safety Publications/Articles

The Desire to Inspire

Here's a simple but very important fact that's often overlooked by teachers in nearly every profession: If you want to inspire someone to learn, you must show them that you have confidence in their ability to do so. This is an observation that's especially applicable to those of us who teach others to fly.

Try this: Imagine introducing a student to landings while providing nary a clue that you believe he or she will eventually master this skill. Strive to show not one iota of confidence in your student's ability to tackle the task. What will you get for this effort? Your dubious reward will be a student who isn't inspired, and a mental Oscar for your performance (because I hope this is acting and not your real behavior).

Every one of us does better when we know that someone thinks we can succeed. It's Psychology 101, and a knowledge nugget often overlooked by flight instructors when teaching students.

The next time you're with a student, send the message that you have confidence in his ability to learn a challenging task. Remember, you've already won your Oscar, so now prove that you deserve it. Tell the student you are sure she'll eventually master the skill at hand. Be positive when a learning plateau looms (which it will). When students express doubts about all the skills they have to learn (and they will), tell them you have no doubt they can learn them all if they press on. Let them know you're on their side. Then prove it.

Showing confidence in a student's behavior is one of the most powerful forms of inspiration at your disposal when you desire to inspire.

By Rod Machado

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