Posted by: Korry | December 8, 2011

An Objective Assessment

What do you see when you look at this image?

Optical Illusion

If you said a duck, you’re right. And if you said a rabbit, you’re also right! Whether you see a duck or a rabbit depends on your perspective. We all view the world through our own lens, and if you’re anything like me, it takes a fair amount of concerted effort to see things from another point of view. Hard as it may be, getting an objective assessment of our own performance or our own life is often exactly what we need to take our game to the next level.

For example, next week I head to my annual recurrent aircraft training. For two days, I’ll fly one of our multi-million dollar flight simulators to ensure I’m proficient at handling routine but difficult instrument approaches as well as a slew of emergency situations including such things as an engine failure right at takeoff or the failure of a backup electrical system. The simulators are so realistic that the FAA has certified all initial aircraft training to be done in the sims. That means the first time a pilot actually flies a particular type of airplane, it will most likely have paying passengers on board. While that may sound a bit scary, trust me, the training is top-notch and you wouldn’t want it any other way.

While training is a bit stressful since I [thankfully] don’t need to handle emergency situations very often if at all and since I’m being evaluated on my skills, it’s also nice to get feedback about my performance. Sure, I know I must be an “ok” pilot since I don’t get called into the office because of some screwup here or there, but that’s not the standard I hope to achieve. I want to be a great pilot, not just an ok one. Unfortunately, other than training, I rarely get much constructive feedback on a daily basis. I fly with different pilots all the time, and they don’t have much incentive to critique me if I’m doing at least ok. Furthermore, I don’t get to see other first officers in action, so I don’t have much that I can compare my performance with. 

Annual training is the one time a year when I know the instructor is going to have feedback for me. They provide an objective assessment of my performance that outlines what they saw me doing well and what they saw that may need tweaking. Personally, I find the information quite valuable. I know I have routines that may not be 100% standard, but if no one points them out to me, I probably won’t realize there’s room to improve.

My wife, Jen, recently went to a research institute in Washington, D.C. to get an objective assessment of her skills and abilities in order to help her identify careers or industries with which her personality and aptitudes would be a good match. After two days of testing, Jen left with a report in hand that wasn’t necessarily earth shattering in its findings but was good at confirming some of her own assumptions, especially the ones she felt in her heart but let her head hold back. The objective assessment will hopefully now help her to move forward with confidence in her search.

Whether it is a performance evaluation (yes, I realize not too many of us really enjoy these) or an outsider’s take on our own skills and abilities, sometimes it’s that objective assessment that makes all the difference. Sometimes it’s designed to build confidence. Other times it seeks to improve performance. But no matter what, objective assessments make us look at ourselves through a different lens–allowing us to see the rabbit when all we could see is the duck–and sometimes that can make all the difference in taking our lives or our performance to the next level.
When’s the last time you got your own objective assessment?
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