By Brie Ragland, AutoInc. correspondent
Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger – the heroic pilot who masterfully landed US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River earlier this year – presented the keynote address during the opening general session of the 2009 Automotive Service and Repair Week (ASRW) Thursday, Nov. 5.
|“None of us knows what tomorrow will bring,” said Sullenberger. “I hope after hearing my story of hope, teamwork and integrity, you will go back and reflect upon yours.”
(Photo: Jeff Loy)
What started out as a story of quick decisions, strong leadership and a focus on safety as a core value, quickly became a motivational anecdote stressing the importance of teamwork, preparation and integrity.
Sullenberger began by saying he was just a regular guy who found himself surrounded by remarkable circumstances Jan. 15, 2009, in New York. Wanting only to mention the story in passing, he told the audience the real reason he was there was to tell them a story – “a remarkable story of teamwork, preparation, survival and yes, a story of hope.”
He began by noting that our nation and the world have needed a story of hope after the sobering and devastating terrorist attacks in 2001, and the economical and financial meltdown over the past two years.
Setting the stage for the story he was about to tell, Sullenberger said, “We live in an ever-changing world, full of uncertainty. This event happened at a time when people were actively searching for good news and looking for reasons to feel hopeful again. Something about Flight 1549 captured the imaginations of people around the world and has given hope to them and has reminded them of the potential for good that exists, not only in the world, but within each of us.”
He encouraged attendees to really listen to the story and think about how simply cultivating seemingly ordinary virtues can prepare one for extraordinary challenges.
Sullenberger spoke highly of his crew members and praised their poise and composure during the challenge they faced, noting that they were all on the same page and were conveying the same message. Clear communication, clear-headedness, calm actions, having a plan and working to implement it were the keys in keeping hope alive on their mission. He said the three reasons their teamwork paid off were 1) the passengers deserved it, 2) the colleagues expected it and 3) their profession demanded it.
Taking attendees through his background, his influences and ultimately the events throughout his life that helped him to be prepared for the events that took place in January 2009, Sullenberger stressed the importance of knowing where you come from and realizing those are the experiences that make you who you are.
Reflecting on a story to explain the importance of integrity, Sullenberger referred to a time when his daughter asked him about the meaning of integrity. Sullenberger told the audience he answered, “Integrity means doing the right thing even when it’s not convenient.” After explaining the importance of integrity in his life and his profession, he went on to share his thought that integrity should be the core of any profession and that he felt like the members of the automotive service and repair industries understand this concept fully.
Sullenberger also encouraged the attendees to really strive to find the passion in their lives. He said that finding a passion in your life and finding passion in your work are two keys to succeeding and being happy in all that you do. He suggested that people tend to be good at what they love doing and that he knew what his passion was when he was five years old. (To emphasize that point, he answered an audience-member’s question about whether or not he thought about pursuing a different passion at any time. His answer was a quick and simple, “No.”)
To wrap up his speech, Sullenberger reiterated the fact that he and his team worked together, had a plan and made the best out of a horrible situation. “None of us knows what tomorrow will bring,” he said. “Each of us has the responsibility to be prepared for what lies before us, work with the team we are given and uphold the professional standards and quality of work we would expect from others. I hope after hearing my story of hope, teamwork and integrity, you will go back and reflect upon yours.”