I was recently reading an article that stated that most commercial airplanes are “off course” over 90% of the time that they are flying. Yet, despite this – we can have incredible confidence that we will land at our expected destination with nearly 100% accuracy.

How is this possible?

In modern commercial aircraft – planes are equipped with some pretty sophisticated computer programs. Before the plane takes off – the pilot inputs the exact coordinates for where the plane will be flying to into the onboard GPS system – and then when the plane is in the air – the autopilot (or pilot on some occasions) program makes a constant stream of immediate course corrections (as turbulence, wind, etc., continue to push the plane ever so subtly off course) – that empower the plane to land with predictable precision at exactly the right location.

Interestingly, if a plane was even 1 degree off course flying from LAX (sorry if you are flying in or out of LAX!) to San Francisco – it would end up 6 miles off course. If that plane was flying around the globe from LAX – it would end up 435 miles off course.

So, you can see that being 1 degree off course can really get you off track in a pretty significant way – if you never take the time to course correct. Over a short period of time – being slightly off course might not have very significant consequences – but over long enough period of time – being slightly off course can lead you to outcomes that are dramatically different than you would have ever imagined (a marriage that slowly drifted apart; estranged relationships that gradually deteriorated; a business that lost its compass – and became unfulfilling or unprofitable; physical health conditions that could have easily been changed early on – but now have become serious and possibly life threatening; etc.).

In 1979, a plane flying from New Zealand to Antarctica was 2 degrees off course (due to a manual input error – and prior to autopilot technology being in effect) – which unfortunately had fatal consequences as the pilots didn’t recognize that they were off course until it was too late. Fortunately, in present day aeronautics – this doesn’t happen anymore – and because the airline industry is constantly learning from past mistakes – airplane travel is extraordinarily safe and accurate!

Now, if we think about this concept and relate it to our lives – there are some pretty remarkable takeaways that can have a substantial and significant positive impact on the quality of our lives.

One of the important takeaways that I took from this knowledge has to do with the importance of having a really clear and precise destination in mind (this could relate to goals we have; our vision; mission; etc.). Much like a navigation system – our brain is much more effective and efficient when you have clear goals and objectives that you are pursuing. If you have a really vague idea of what you want to accomplish, focus on, or pursue – it’s kind of like inputting California as your end point destination in your navigation system. Your navigation system will get confused and ultimately be rendered totally ineffective. However, when the destination is super clear – your navigation system can provide clear directions, offer alternative routes, alert you to possible detours, and suggest your most efficient course of travel (similarly, our brains love a really detailed and clear destination – which allows us to plan and strategize effectively for a variety of different conditions).

The other big takeaway that I got out of this was how critical it is to be constantly course correcting in our life, marriage, family, work, health, spiritual journey, etc., as even being just slightly off course can lead me to wildly different outcomes than we would have hoped for in each of these domains (and this illustrates why it’s so important to have clear direction and purpose for where you are steering or co-steering every important area of your life).

For me personally – this is why having a clear values based blueprint for my life is so important, necessary, and impactful. My core values (which are consistent in all areas of my life – as I don’t want to compartmentalize my values in different areas – and have to deal with the consequences that come from steering my time, energy, and focus in different and or even opposing directions) serve as my internal autopilot system – and the more I work on internalizing them – the quicker and more efficient I become in correcting my behavior, actions, words, choices, thoughts, priorities, etc., so that being 1 degree off course doesn’t end up leading me to a potentially fatal destination.

This might seem dramatic – but, I’ve seen this happen over and over again – even with the best of intentions. It’s amazing how subtle being slightly off course can feel in the short term (especially if you don’t have a really clear destination in mind that you have shared with important others). Without having clear values, principles, virtues, and supportive community in place – there is no onboard system to alert you when you are off course – and your marriage, health, business, family, etc., can end up in destinations that you never wanted to experience.

On the other hand – when your onboard system has everything pointed in the same direction – and you have put in place the systems, processes, coordinates, team, etc., that are aligned with this destination – it’s amazing how quickly you realize you are off course – and how much easier it is to change course almost immediately – as opposed to needing to do so after spending weeks, months, or even years of traveling off course.

I hope you can see the value of choosing to establish an Authentic internal navigation system – and why this might be the most important and significant process that you could possible implement in order to land at your ultimate life, marriage, family, work, and legacy destinations! After all – who wants to buy a ticket to Hawaii – only to realize that their flight took them to Antarctica (may be a beautiful place – but if you were expecting Hawaii – this would be a rude awakening!)


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