The Blue Angels believe in continuous improvement every day.
Are you better than you were yesterday, but not as good as you’ll be tomorrow? How do you know?
Once the airshow season begins in March, daily improvement — not a radical leap — is expected. Just getting a little better every day.
How does someone become more skilled, more competent every day?
SET A STANDARD
What is the objective, the goal? Be specific. It must be measurable, either objectively or subjectively. But it must be clear and specific. Fuzzy goals lead to fuzzy efforts and fuzzy results.
MEASURE YOUR PERFORMANCE
Blue Angels face the truth about their performance after every weekday practice flight and every weekend airshow. This objective, detailed flight debrief is sacred and never violated. Everything else can wait until after they evaluate their performance. Accurate, timely feedback is welcomed as a wonderful gift — no matter how it is delivered — although their culture demands it always be delivered professionally, with respect.
Knowing the truth is not enough, we must take ownership of our performance and commit to improvement. Ask yourself “what is one specific action I can take to improve, to get closer to achieving my performance goal?” If you don’t have a good answer, ask for help. In every preflight brief, each pilot will publicly announce a specific improvement goal for that flight: Blue Angel #3 might say, “My specific goal today is to exactly match #2 throughout the Left Echelon Roll maneuver.” He will self-evaluate his performance on his specific goal during the flight debrief.
Daily improvement is not easy. It requires discipline, persistence, and often suppression of our egos as we face the truth and accept responsibility for our performance. We must maintain a learner’s mindset that welcomes a challenge and is creative in seeking ways to improve. And be able to occasionally laugh at ourselves as we follow the zig-zag path to mastery.
If you watch a Blue Angel airshow early in the season, say in April, you will see a Blue Angel airshow of precision and professionalism.
If you watch a Blue Angel airshow in September or October, you will see the same maneuvers and if you paid close attention early in the season you would now notice the jets are closer together, lower to the ground, and the show is a few minutes shorter as the pilots have gradually refined and tightened the maneuvers throughout the season.
Be a High-Trust Leader: Build COMPETENCE through daily improvement.
COMPETENCE TRAINING TIP
1. Pick one small, specific goal of improvement this week. Don’t make it radical — just one area you’ve noticed could use your attention to raise your game. Write it down.
2. Accept responsibility each day to get a little better. “Today I will ____________.”
3. Measure your performance in a daily written debrief.
4. Evaluate your progress at the end of the week and reward yourself accordingly.
5. Rinse and repeat the next week.