How To Thrive Under Extreme Pressure

On January 15th, 2009 Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger led a crew that crash landed in the icy Hudson River an Airbus A320. A bird strike shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia had crippled both engines of US Airways  Flight 1549. Sully had seconds to react–could he to return to LaGuardia in time or did he need to land somewhere else? He realized quickly the only option was a dramatic water landing in the Hudson.

Under full view of New York City, and soon the entire world, Sully safely landed the Airbus in the Hudson River. The event was an instant phenomenon. The US, still reeling from two grueling wars, the financial crisis, and the Bernie Madoff scandal, needed a win. Sully delivered. By the time he reached shore, the Captain was an American hero and a global celebrity. So much so that when Clint Eastwood and Tom Hanks made a film recounting that famous January day and it’s aftermath, they didn’t name it something like  “Miracle On The Hudson,” or “Water Landing” or “Flight 1549” — they titled it “Sully”.

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Captain Sully joined me on The Forbes Interview podcast to talk about how he saved Flight 1549, how to thrive under pressure in business and life, how to build a team that manages risk, his world after the crash landing, and the future of transportation and self-driving cars.

Some highlights:

Captain Sullenberger on how to manage risk:

We have to have situational awareness–we have to be able to create a mental model of our reality. We have to be good risk mangers, be mindful, we have to understand our process so we can sensitize ourselves to risk. Bad outcomes are rarely the a result of a single failure but are instead the end result of a  chain of events, and when we sensitize ourselves to risk and are able to identify it proactively we can break the chain and have a good outcome.

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