Self-help & Self-improvement

Life Resource Management (LRM) - A Flyers Guide To Surviving Life


This book will launch on Feb 19, 2021. Currently, only those with the link can see it. 🔒

When you are preparing for, or new to the world of employment, the stresses and strains can be immense. None more so than in the world of flying.

What do you do when:
You want to be the best version of yourself.
You have the best job in the world, but its stresses drive you to distraction.
The rules of life are dramatically changed, and we search for firm ground to hold on to.

Life Resource Management (LRM) provides you with the most up-to-date techniques to support you through challenging times in your aviation career. Written by an experienced Scottish captain who has been through what you are going through, you will find deep insight, shared experiences, support, advice, and all the motivation you will need.

Inside, we ask life-changing questions and the exciting answers are not what you might think. By using proven psychological techniques and mind hacks, you will find new ways to rediscover the joy in your lives and develop exceptional careers as flyers … and human beings.Included as a bonus - a chapter specific to the viral pandemic with help and advice to guide you through these unprecedented times.

I am what I am

. I am what I am

And what I am needs no excuses

I deal my own deck

Sometimes the ace, sometimes the deuces

Gloria Gaynor

. To know yourself is to give yourself an excellent platform

for understanding and relating to others. In this chapter we

look at two specific human traits that are essential to your

work in aviation. We also review the concept of what it is

that we really need in this life, and we search to find balance

in our daily routines.

People are truly amazing. So complex, so very unique and yet

we manage to somehow mentally slot people into commonly

understood boxes for our convenience. That might suit someone

who must deal with a large number of people and needs a quick

way to summarise their individuality, but, in so doing, often

serves to miss so many of the details and subtleties that make us

individual. We become staff numbers and roster codes, rather

than living breathing people with unique and personal feelings

and emotions.

. “I am NOT a number. I am a person.”

Patrick McGoohan (From the UK TV series “The


. When we are “averaged out” by a corporate system we may feel

misunderstood, disregarded, and unimportant. In recent years,we have seen

significant advances in personnel and operations

systems that manage employees … and so it is in aviation.

Given however, that most of these systems are computer-based,

we still have a level of disconnect between those for whom we

work, and ourselves. The work is ongoing to bridge this gap,

this disconnect, but, until such time as systems can truly

understand and adapt to our complex natures, we must

endeavour to adapt to the system.

Life Resource Management provides an insight into the nature

of our beloved industry and, whilst acknowledging its

undoubted weaknesses, we can use skills, hacks and techniques

to work with it, rather than against it. Butting heads with the

system leads to stress, fatigue, illness and tests our feelings and

emotions to the limit. I'm not suggesting for a moment that we

all become compliant automatons, but we can work with

ourselves much more easily than we can with a faceless system.

. “It is not a failure to readjust my sails to fit the waters I find

myself in.”

Mackenzi Lee

. When we consider how to adapt to the challenges that work and

life send us, we need to first ask ourselves “What is it I really

need out of life”. Some might respond that they need money, or

a nice house, or maybe a great looking spouse. Who doesn't

want these things? In truth, however, we are much more

complicated even than we ourselves realise. We have needs at

all different levels. Let us look at them, shall we?

. In 1943 in the USA, a Jewish Russian immigrant, by the name

of Abraham Maslow, published a paper in a journal that led to a

far greater understanding of the nature of our human needs. He

was looking for nothing less than the meaning of life. In his

search, Maslow established what he describes as his 5-layer

pyramid, or hierarchy of needs, and it is quite revealing in

describing the complexities of our human nature. We are far

more complicated than even we realise.

The first and second areas of basic human needs could be

considered as the practical things in life. Maslow refers to them

as physiological needs. The third, fourth and fifth levels are

much more mind-based needs. He refers to them as

psychological or spiritual needs (in the non-religious sense).

Let’s look at those items now, shall we, because it is the

satisfying of these needs that this book is about.

1. The base of the pyramid. Physiological needs. These things

are non-negotiable. We must have them.

Things necessary to basic human existence: food, water,

warmth, and rest.

In our jobs, we may or not obtain crew meals, we will have

accommodation provided down route but, generally, we must

pay for our own food and drink.

. 2. The second level. Safety. Security and protection. It is the

responsibility of the company to provide us with a secure

working environment but, outside of that, we must keep our

wits about us and look to supporting others in times of need.

. 3. The third level and onwards are Psychological needs. At

level 3, belongingness and love. We need to feel part of

something, our tribe of work colleagues, our friends, and our


. 4. The fourth level. Esteem. We need to feel that we are valued,

respected, and that we are taken seriously. Some companies are

well experienced in maintaining employee morale, others less

so. In the absence of company efforts to make us feel valued,

we must take our own actions to maintain our own concept of


. 5. The fifth level. The top of the pyramid. Self Actualisation.

Living according to our potential, and becoming who we really

are and not just the face that we put on for others. This is the

highest level of need and, so often, the part of us that is left,

unnourished. Life Resource Management brings the life back into living.

We are made of complicated stuff and each of us has different

levels of each of these needs. To put it simply, it is our

responsibility to establish what it is we really need, and what is

just a want. We can then, more proactively, take action to

satisfy these needs. Without these needs being satisfied we

experience anxiety, frustration and a whole list of emotions that

can be best described as pain.

. It is within you to look within yourself and see (maybe for the

first time) what it is you lack at different times in your life.

What emotions are you experiencing, and do they indicate a

lack in any of the areas we have spoken about above? You will

find, in the coming chapters, very cool tools and systems to do

just that and bring yourself back from a place of pain and lack,

to a place of power and abundance. These skills will support

you through the challenges and joys of your life and puts you in

an excellent position to help others. Do however, remember the

cabin safety briefing:

. “In the event of a loss of cabin pressure, put on your own oxygen

mask before assisting others.

. You do yourself an injustice if you do not attend to yourself

first, and you will be unable to help anyone else if you,

yourself, are not healthy and balanced. To live a full and

expansive life, we want to be firing on all cylinders to be able

to squeeze every bit of goodness out of life that we can and,

part of that vast life, as you will find, is in helping others.

Our needs drive our behaviour, and our behaviour is what our

employers and colleagues see at work. My question to you at

this moment is:

. “Do you work to live, or live to work?

. In life, as in science, we need balance. “Too much work and no

play makes Jack a dull boy.” If we give work our total focus,

we create a massive imbalance. Our relationships suffer; our

awareness of and empathy with others fades, the higher-level

needs of living all of life are subordinated to climbing the

career ladder at the fastest possible speed.

. “Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.”

Dolly Parton

. Conversely, too little effort put into striving and developing

yourself via work or other means, creates entropy within us.

. Entropy: A lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into


Oxford English Dictionary

. As pilots we carry out a weight and balance check of our

aircraft before we fly, every single time. Would we not benefit

from making a check of the balance in our lives? What needs

are we not satisfying? Have another look at the differing levels

of needs we discussed and see if there are any areas of your life

that are simply not being catered for. How do you feel about

that, and, more importantly, what are you going to do about it?

We have now looked at what it is we need from life, but now

let’s look at what a life in flying requires of us.

. So, now let’s ask … “Am I right for the job?”

. “I have straight A’s, I was a Senior Scout, I am nice to old

people and my art teacher told me I would go far in this

world.” Be your aspiration pilot or cabin crew, there are

clearly minimum requirements to enter our esteemed

profession. This varies from country to country and from

company to company. I don’t think it is necessary to list what

might be considered “minimum requirements” here. What I

would like to discuss with you now are those traits that make

some people, who have at least the minimum requirements,

more successful than other people who have the same minimum

requirements or greater.

. In certain companies, often even before you meet a human

being, you are provided with a psychological test. It often takes

the form of approx. 100 questions which are basic statements

about you, e.g. “I feel confident at parties.” Your options would


. I agree with this statement:

A A Lot

B Somewhat

C Little

D Not at all

. You then choose a letter that best suits how you feel about

yourself and place it in an answer grid on a piece of paper.

From your many responses, the recruitment people can then

gauge the nature of your character. This psychometric test is

known as the Briggs-Myers Type Indicator (MBTI). I mention

this brand of test specifically (albeit there are many other types

of test that companies adopt), because it is claimed that 89 of

the Fortune 100 companies use the MBTI before hiring a new


. “I’ve already started my career in flying so I don’t need to

know this stuff.” Maybe you’ve been flying for some time and,

with luck, will never endure another recruitment process again.

I mention this for two reasons:

Firstly, if you are about to attend a recruitment process with a

company, forewarned is forearmed. You can think about the

type of questions you will encounter, and how you might

respond to them. The companies create a model of the kind of

person they wish to recruit, and they compare your test results

against their model for “fit”. There are numerous books on

Amazon and the like, that explain this process in much greater

detail. I encourage you to take a look before your recruitment

day. Self-knowledge is a huge factor in maintaining confidence

in life, and particularly when under the pressure of a

recruitment day.

. That leads me to my second point:

. As I say, self-knowledge is hugely important in this life. I really

cannot overstate this. Introspection or looking within oneself

can be a daunting process, but provides you with knowledge,

and, as you know, knowledge is power. Power in ALL walks of

life. And this really is the purpose of this book – to give you

power within your life, to provide you with the strength and

motivation to thrive in an industry and world that is continually

changing and will continue to challenge us as our career

develops. But what does it mean to know yourself?

. The psychometric tests that are used in the recruitment

processes above are available to us all via the Internet. We can

take these tests at any time (for a fee of course, albeit I have

found one that is free ( These

introduce us to our character traits that we possess at this time.

I highlight “at this time” because we always change.

Bence Nanay is professor of philosophy at the University of

Antwerp and senior research associate at the University of

Cambridge. He is the author of “Aesthetics as a Philosophy of

Perception” (2016). In an excellent article, Bence argues that

self-knowledge is pointless because we continually change. We

develop over the years and sometimes the changes within us are

not obvious. They slip under the radar. I would argue that far

from being pointless, seeking self-knowledge and an

appropriate level of introspection on a daily basis, leads to a

whole new level of understanding, not only of ourselves, but

others, too. With that knowledge comes the ability to manage

our own thoughts and emotions. The reason why the ability to

do this is important, and it will become clearer in later chapters.

. As Gloria Gaynor said, “I am what I am, and what I am needs

no excuses”. We are all brought into this world with an amazing

set of abilities that are innate, others we learn along the way.

The things that we learn, we generally learn from first-hand

experience or being taught by others. By others, initially these

will be our parents, and what we learn from our parents is what

their parents taught them updated by their own experiences.

This is how things are, and how they have been for as long as

humans have been around. We are, then, the sum total of our

experiences and all the “information” that we have gathered

from external sources, filtered by our own sense of logic and,

dare I say it, self-knowledge. We inherently know ourselves at

quite a deep level, but much of what makes us who we are is

retained in a place in the mind that one might call the

subconscious. We know ourselves deep down, at a

subconscious level, but on the conscious level (our normal way

of thinking during waking hours), our fears, desires and needs

may not be obvious.

. Have you ever been in a conversation or argument and said

something that seemed to come out of nowhere and it was only

then that you realised that you felt strongly in a certain way on

that specific subject? It produced a stimulus from deep down,

that was hidden away and only passed through the subconscious

wall when pressed by strong emotions. Knowing yourself is

more subtle and complicated than knowing you like one sugar

in your coffee because two sugars is too sweet. It takes a review

of your actions on a daily basis and a willingness to look at

yourself with a truly open mind, unencumbered by how you

have thought of yourself since the year dot.

. We are what we think. To put it simply, your behaviour in

your waking hours relates strongly to your values, your deeply

seated memories, and resultant feelings plus, and this is a

biggie…, what your mind has been concentrating on in the

recent past. I’ll give you an example of how our thoughts shape

our actions:

. I was working abroad with a colleague in a foreign country. We

decided to go for a walk along the promenade, next to the

seaside. Like a dimwit, I had a wad of banknotes in the breast

pocket of my shirt. The thin cotton shirt made it quite clear that

there was money in my pocket, but I clearly hadn’t noticed that

it was blindingly obvious to everyone else. I remember walking

along the promenade, and, in the distance, three tall guys were

walking in the opposite direction towards me. Their heads were

shaved. Effectively they were bald. As they approached me, one

lunged at my shirt pocket. Like a fool I reached up and placed

my hand under his. Around my precious money. He ripped my

shirt off and I was left shirtless holding the cotton pocket of my

shirt with the money in it! He looked at me with loathing and

then the three looked at each other, figured it wasn’t worth any

further effort and sauntered on. I was left shocked, scared and

not just a little bit wobbly on my feet.

. Well, since then, men with bald heads leave me…

apprehensive. Interesting, isn’t it? It’s a phobia. It is something

my brain does that is not based on a real threat, but nevertheless

creates a real emotion within me. But I know this. I am aware

of the subconscious feeling of threat that this creates in me, and

I prepare myself and act accordingly. Fear is a powerful

emotion and has a massive effect on how we live our lives… if

we let it. Being self-aware, conscious of how we are and how

we think, can help us to avoid future bad situations created by

our own mind’s concept of how the world is (notice I say

concept, and not how the world really is).

. Put it another way, say in my role as airline captain, I encounter

another man who is bald. Say a ground handling staff member.

They come up and tell me there is a delay with loading a piece

of cargo. It might create within me a feeling of attack. And what

do you do when you are attacked? You go on the defensive and

defensive people are hard to work with. I might shout and yell

at the guy and chew him out. “You don’t get to win over me”

will be how it feels. But all the poor guy did was to tell me he

had a problem, he was trying to fix it and it might cause me a

small delay. He is communicating like a professional, but I

respond with aggression. Not cool. This is my issue and

knowing this about myself lets me take a deep breath and,

rather than chew him out, say “Ok mate, let me know when

you’ve got the problem fixed and I’ll handle the delay from my

side.” That’s how things work better and it is all because I

know myself.

. As pilots and cabin crew, we all have things that can set us up

to be less than 100% effective. Pilots who hate lightning. Cabin

crew that vomit at the smell of vomit. These are all things that,

if we know about them, we can exercise better judgement over

how we deal with certain circumstances.

. As Bence Nanay said, these feelings may change with time, but

as I review these feelings from over time, I will come to notice

how I am behaving, and may notice that bald guys don’t bother

me anymore. It’s the act of reviewing and noticing that I am

commending to you.

. You remember the psychometric tests we looked at earlier in

this chapter? These give you a snapshot into who you are. The

way you think and, as a result, this becomes a predictor of how

you will behave. As I mentioned, companies look to see if you

fit their model of the “ideal employee”, but, for YOU, it gives

you a clearer insight into something you know deep down but

may not have considered at a truly conscious level. You can

then amend and adapt yourself to whatever situation you may

encounter. I don’t mean that you change yourself unless you

feel it necessary. What is important is to know how you think

and behave in certain situations so you can get the best result. It

may also give you an insight into how differently people

perceive you compared to how you perceive yourself.

. “You mean the shy, quiet guy?”

“Heck, I didn’t think people saw me as quiet and shy. I party

with the best of them, why would they say that?”

. Well, why would they say that? Because that is what they see.

That is what people perceive about you. Does the way people

perceive you, work for you? Do you even know how people

perceive you? If not, does it matter? Maybe. Would changing

your behaviour based on a new awareness help you? Quite

probably. Only you can decide, but self-knowledge is power. To

abuse another quotation “The truth will set you free.”

. Your deeper-set feelings, emotions and biases can be gleaned

from psychometric tests; however, a simple review by yourself

of your day might bring new and more immediate realisations

to light:

. Do you flag in the afternoon because you need a

sugar boost?

Do you find it hard to deal with numbers?

Does working in a team make you feel awkward?

. The list of potential responses to events that you might wish to

control better, are myriad. If you are aware of how you are and

how you feel about certain things, you can take actions to

alleviate them, avoid them, or counteract them, e.g.

. Carry a protein bar with you to munch on.

Carry a calculator or have one on your watch.

Maybe you could seek advice on how to socialise

more easily. There is a lot of help out there.

. How do I review these feelings, emotions, and my

resultant behaviour? 10-15 minutes is all it takes to sit

quietly and just review your day, your successes, and

things that may have not gone so well. What did you do

well, what could you have done better? In your

interactions with others, how did it go? Why did you do

and say the things that you did? Did it work for you?

Was it stressful? How could you have interacted better,

and why was it that you behaved that way? What

buttons of yours got pressed? What can I learn from


. Traits

. I did say that I wouldn’t speak at any length about the

requirements companies make of their employees, but there are

two that I would like to bring to your attention:

Flexibility – Oh man, do you need this in spades in flying! You

may go to work thinking you are going to Mallorca and back

for the day, but you may end up going to Warsaw and staying

overnight. You have arranged childcare for your young’uns and

the babysitter goes home at 5pm… but you are stuck in

Warsaw. “But they can’t do that to me!” Oh yes, they can, and

they will. You are a company asset; a chess piece on a board

and you can and will be placed wherever the company needs


. Aviation companies are infamous for creating changes to your

work roster at the very last moment, and they expect you to

adapt YOUR life to THEIR requirements.I remember once,

working away from base, in a canteen having

lunch with other members of the crew. The phone rang and it

was the crewing department. The roster was changed, and we

would probably be away overnight and the time of the return

flight to base would not be confirmed until the following

morning. The cabin senior erupted because she had made plans

to be with friends, childcare issues had now arisen, and her

husband was out of town. Like most of us, she wanted to be

home with her family, and she was gutted that the company

“had done this to her!” To her, it was a personal attack on her

liberty. The rest of us were surprised at her outburst. Someone

of her experience must know that this is how things are, but

sometimes things build up, stresses and strains, and sometimes

it just seems overwhelming. You feel you are owned by

someone else who doesn’t care about you.

. Flexibility is an absolute must in our line of work, and this trait will be

challenged daily. Living with uncertainty is a subset of this and

will be a massive asset to you if you can master it.

. Open Mind – Businesses do not all operate the same way.

Some firms manage to communicate better than others. Each

company will have a certain culture, a way of operating and

interacting with each other that is unique and individual to that

one company. If you have worked at other companies, you may

find that this culture goes against what you used to

know/feel/enjoy at your previous employer. If it does not fit

well with you, you can do one of several things:

. 1. You can rail against it. Call it stupid, ill-managed and

generally put it down.

2. You can try and change it. Good luck with that, is all I

can say.

3. You can change the way you behave at work which

may generate a different experience.

4. You can tell them what to do with their job and leave.

5. You can change how you think about it.

. I personally would recommend the latter option. Not everything

has to be the way it was before. Other ideas and concepts at

first can be seen as alien, but can become normal and

acceptable if you just give them a chance. Keep an open mind

that someone else may have had a better idea than you or your

previous employer.

. Finally, I am sure that I don’t need to draw to your attention to

the fact that flying attracts people from every corner of the

globe. People of every colour, creed, and language. English is

normally the common language, but even given that norm, it is

often not the predominant language when you travel the world.

Things often seem strange, alien, weird, outlandish, rude,

ignorant, not like we do it back home. Please remember that to

many, your way of life, language, and culture is all the

adjectives listed above. We all come from somewhere. That

somewhere has shaped us and made us what we are today. On

the other side of the world, that other person’s somewhere may

look and feel very different to where you come from. Keep your

mind open when you are tempted to look down on, deride, or

simply cast judgement on another person’s culture, race, and


. So, never be afraid to be yourself, but learn to truly know

yourself so that you may adapt your behaviour in situations that

might not potentially bring out the best in you.

. Tip

. Body language and peoples’ interpretation of these things can

vary from country to country. If communicating, be conscious

that your message may not be truly comprehended even though

they understood the words you said. The meaning and intent

might not be obvious.

. We have now seen from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs that

the things that we crave in this life are complicated and

sometimes not obvious to us. Knowledge of your needs and

your own character lead you to a place where you can truly

understand not only yourself, but also others. The traits of

flexibility and an open mind are crucial to your success in

aviation, and we looked at situations where these would be

used in your aviation role. We learned that we are what we

think, and we reviewed the role of self-knowledge in

recruitment and establishing a true perception of ourselves.

About the author

As a Scottish airline Captain, I see music and poetry in my daily work. I see wonderful people who know the unique joy of defying gravity for a living, who yet struggle to match work demands with that of life. My thoughts are with them and any others who struggle to find a way forward in life. view profile

Published on July 01, 2020

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Genre: Self-help & Self-improvement