I love movies with lessons. “Sully,” brilliantly staring Tom Hanks, is about the pilot who in 2009 successfully performed an emergency landing on the Hudson River, saving all 155 passengers. Aside from the landing itself, the drama was about the NTSB’s questioning of Captain Sullenberger’s decision to land on the river and not at a nearby airport. The strongly implied accusation was that Sully had made the wrong decision, needlessly endangering the lives of the passengers and costing a plane.
As I watched, I felt awful for Sully, who under the inquiry, began to doubt himself, and the doubt became escalating fear that maybe they were right. The deep dread of self-doubt – that gut-wrenching feeling – is one of the most deeply painful human emotions. I’ve had it too many times.
I saw two business leadership and life lessons in this movie:
First, it’s hard to think clearly, to solve rather than crumple, in the midst of self-doubt – Sully did that, and through his regained composure, managed the situation.
Second, it’s tempting to harshly judge our decisions and those of others. Yes, let’s evaluate. Then let’s temper the judgment, recognizing that only people who put themselves into situations of gravitas can make decisions that prove to be important.
Note: some disagreed about the depiction of the NTSB in “Sully.”