Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the U.S. Airways pilot who successfully “landed” an Airbus in the Hudson River, has a memoir due out in October 2009. A recent article in The New York Daily News (August 18, 2009) gives a fascinating preview: “The theme running through Sullenberger’s memoir is that what counts isn’t what he did in those five minutes in the cockpit but how he spent the 57 years leading up to them.” Sullenberger writes in his memoir: “We need to do the right thing every time, to perform at our best because we never know what moment our lives will be judged on.”
Boy, do those words hit home: We need to perform at our best because we never know what moment our lives will be judged on.
There is a quotation, some version of which is displayed probably in half the locker rooms in America: “The will to win is not nearly as important as the will to prepare to win.” This quote has been ascribed to most, if not all, the successful coaches in history.
Sullenberger has emphatically restated the truth of the importance of the will to prepare when he tells us that he was only able to deliver that five minutes of winning, five minutes of incredible, life-saving excellence, because of the 57 years of preparation, dedication, and commitment that went before.
We all know ways that we can apply this truth to our own lives, ways in which we can better prepare ourselves to deliver our best. We may never be called upon to land a plane in the Hudson but every day we are given the opportunity to be an “everyday hero” to someone, an opportunity to be the best neighbor, parent, spouse, friend, co-worker, volunteer, citizen, or just all-around human being.
“The best we can be, we must be.”
“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” — Steve Prefontaine