Plane Crash Priorities
In 2009, Ric Elias was in seat 1B on Flight 1549. Three minutes into the flight, he was speaking with the flight attendants when he heard the clacking of the engine. The plane filled with smoke. And moments later, the pilot went on the intercom and said three terrifying words: Brace for impact.
The famous crash-landing in the Hudson River with zero fatalities has since been made into a major motion picture entitled “Sully” starring Tom Hanks.
Two years later, Elias shared what he learned while he crashed down to what seemed an inevitable death in his TED Talk: Three Things I Learned While My Plane Crashed.”
Elias says when the plane went down, he realized to his surprise that death was not scary. Rather, it was sad. Sad because of things left undone. Elias says, “I regretted the time I wasted on things that did not matter.”
After surviving the water landing, Elias got a wake-up call. He stopped making urgent but not important things a priority, and instead made sure to add urgency to what was important, like, for him, being a good father. He defined his mission clearly, and made sure it was at the top of his list every day. Elias says, “That urgency-- that purpose-- has really changed my life.”
Students today live in a world of opportunity where the job market and social reach is expanding faster than ever. Elias asks us not to wait to prioritize our mission and our unique genius until we-- like him-- are woken by a near-death experience. He leaves us with one simple question: “What would you get done that you’re waiting to get done because you think you’ll be here forever?”
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