When people don’t have time to think, they become identical. They are driven to react rather than respond — as when people panic. Mass panic is virtually impossible to produce when people remain calm, stop and think.
Recall the US Airways plane leaving New York city having birds fly into its engines, quickly and totally disabling it. That jetliner, piloted by a genuine hero, Captain Chesley B. “Sulley” Sullenberger, was forced to ditch into the Hudson river.
After a picture-perfect emergency water landing, all the 155 passengers on board left the plane and stood on its wings, waiting to be picked up by nearby boats. All survived.
It was called a miracle. But the survivors had a different version. It was just simple, they reported. Nobody panicked. Everybody kept a cool head. People were responding, rather than reacting.
In an article in Newsweek magazine a few weeks after the incident, Captain Sullenberger offered his observation: “We never gave up. Having a plan enabled us to keep our hope alive. Perhaps in a similar fashion, people who are in their own personal crises, can be reminded that no matter how dire the circumstances, or how little time you have to deal with it, further action is always possible. There is always a way out of even the tightest spot. You can survive.”
Wow, so the answer is here. In any unwelcome and difficult situation where things are changing rapidly, one must stop and
think. That whole process does not take long. Seconds, at the most. Your mind is an amazing instrument. It can weigh all the options that are before you in nanoseconds and come up with a response. Yet it does take time. Response takes time, reaction is instantaneous.
If the passengers on that plane imagined that this was the end, then they were going to die. Even if the plane landed
safely on the water, panic would have ensured their end.
So, the trick is to raise your consciousness from the lowest to the highest level of awareness, no matter what is going on around you.
(Edited extracts from the author’s book, When Everything changes, Change Everything)