By Patrick Achitabwino:
On March 10 2019, the world woke up to the tragedy that Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 had crashed, killing all 157 people on board. That was doom for Ethiopian Airlines. Customer confidence was beginning to erode and Africa’s leading airline in profits was facing financial constraints. But, wait a minute, Ethiopian Airlines rose above the smouldering pains and dominated the skies again. The secret was simple – decisiveness, communication and action, so observed renowned leadership guru, Dr Alex Granger. Eventually, Ethiopian Airlines had a turnover of $3.6 billion against $2.8 in the year 2018. Its net profit hit $278 million against $215 million in 2018. In the very same year of the accident, the CEO of Ethiopian Airlines Tewole GebreMarian was awarded the Airline Executive of the Year award for 2019.
The bottom line is that it is possible to come out strong from a disaster. You have your airline crashes. Your airline crash may be that you missed out on the opportunity you craved, you could not get the promotion you thought you deserve, your business has been in the doldrums and you were not picked to advance further studies at the university. In one way or another, we grow with personal airline crashes. The airlines of our dreams tumble to the extent that, with little hope, we may consider our dreams over. Such needs not be case. It is not the crashing that matters most; it is how we react to our crashing that matters most. If we decisively take stock of what happened and added an appropriate dosage of action, chances are that we will rise again to the surprise of the world.
It is appropriate to note that, at the time we least expect, at the moment we are flying high in our careers, at the pinnacle when our corporate success leads to great recognition and admiration, unexpectedly, we may crash. The crashing may not be a result of our inability to manage ourselves; it might be a result of other external factors. Come to think of how the coronavirus has wreaked havoc on the airline industry, the tourism industry and many other sectors. The bottom line is that great leaders will emerge in these sectors who will revive them post-calamity.
No matter the pain, no matter the disillusionment, no matter the hopelessness you may go through at the moment your dreams crash; cling on to the tatters of hope. Change your perspective. Start looking at things differently and all will be okay one day. Painful moments are there to shape us for greatness.
Whenever you feel like your dream airline has crashed, remember the story of Ethiopian Airlines and you will resurrect. The world is never short of inspiring stories of people that rose out of despondency to great success. Imagine being in the shoes of Colonel Harland Saunders that you have been fired from jobs throughout your career then you resort to cooking chicken on a roadside Shell Service. Imagine that, in 10 years, you keep on perfecting your chicken recipe and move on to higher locations. Boom, the year 1950 comes and crashes the airline of your chicken business. The Kentucky town where your restaurant is located comes on an interstate that eventually takes away important traffic thus leaving you with a recipe but no market.
This crash saw Colonel Saunders closing his business and retiring broke. But with decisiveness and action, surviving on only a meagre $105 monthly pension cheque, he set out to find restaurants that would franchise his secret recipe – he wanted a nickel for each piece of chicken sold. He drove around, sleeping in his car and was rejected more than 1,000 times before finally finding his partner. That marked the re-emergence of the KFC brand that has conquered the food industry today.
Sometimes your life may crash when the big occasion comes. Think of Dereck Redmond at the Barcelona Olympics. He posted the fasted time for the first round and went on to win his quarter-final. In the semi-final, he started well but about 250 meters to the finish line his hamstring tore.
He hobbled to a halt and then fell to the ground in pain. Stretcher-bearers made their way to him but he decided he wanted to finish the race. He began to hobble along the track. He was soon joined on the track by his father, Jim Redmond, who barged past security and onto the track to get his son.
Dereck and his father completed the lap of the track together. Though he completed the race, Dereck was officially disqualified and the Olympic Record states that he did not finish the race.
The story of Dereck Redmond inspires many people and has been turned into films. When a crash visits you, never despair, work hard to complete the race that you started. Giving up is no option. Circumstances will knock you down but never accept to be knocked out.