Navigating a Crisis with Confidence and Curiosity: Lessons from “The Miracle on the Hudson”

In 2009, barely a few minutes after takeoff from New York City’s LaGuardia Airport, a flock of birds collided with the engine of US Airways Flight 1549, causing a total engine failure. Faced with a harrowing situation, the pilot made the decision to land the plane in the Hudson River... and thanks to his calmness under pressure, plus the swift actions of the flight crew and passengers, all 155 people on board made it safely off the plane.

Now known as “the Miracle on the Hudson,” this incident offers many important lessons on how to navigate challenging situations with calmness, confidence, and creativity. On the Mindfulness Manufacturing podcast, we had the opportunity to hear some of these lessons firsthand from Dave Sanderson, a survivor of Flight 1549. Dave is a nationally recognized leadership speaker and bestselling author, who draws from his inspirational story of survival to encourage others to find healthy ways to cope with their own struggles and adversity.

In this unique episode, Dave shares his harrowing story and offers insights on calmness, curiosity, and more leaders can use to navigate their own challenges and adversity.

Miracle of the Hudson Lesson #1: Every Moment Happens for a Reason

Throughout our lives, we all face challenges and adversity. These range from the massive and traumatic, like plane accidents or a cancer diagnosis, to more everyday challenges like a communications breakdown at work or an argument with your partner. To cope with challenges, both big and small, acknowledge that every moment happens for a reason. Every crisis is a chance to learn a lesson, build your resilience, and grow your mindset, and you can emerge from every challenge with new ideas for how to learn, heal, and grow.

Miracle on the Hudson Lesson #2: Manage Your Own Mindset

To get yourself and others through a crisis or challenging situation, the first step is managing your own mindset. If you can’t manage your own emotions and behavior, you can’t help your team in a productive way. One way to manage your mindset is to think about the meaning you attach to a situation. For example, imagine there’s been a small accident in your workplace. Do you see it as a positive opportunity to improve safety and communications, or are you feeling bogged-down with negative thoughts? By paying attention to the emotional managing you assign to adverse situations, you can reframe your mindset and find more productive responses.

Miracle on the Hudson Lesson #3: Lead with Creativity and Curiosity

In a crisis, everyone will react differently and assign their own emotional meaning to the event. As a leader, this means you need to lead with creativity and curiosity. Instead of judging others for their reactions, pursue authentic interactions. Ask curious question. Learn their story, and you’ll find ways to understand their behavior and emotions. Then, get creative and look for ways to turn a challenging time into a positive opportunity.

Learn More on the Podcast

To hear more from Dave Sanderson, listen to his episode of Mindfulness Manufacturing here.