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TEN coaching insights from TOP GUN: MAVERICK

Maverick illustrates the virtue of staying on his toes and being fleet-footed all the time.

The movie is about a no-nonsense pilot, who sets himself up to earn the respect of wannabe ‘Top Guns.’ Maverick is supposed to exemplify and not win laurels for himself. Help the new air jockeys he's commissioned to train, eliminate cockiness and sign up to achieve a near-impossible mission in two weeks. As I watched the movie, my executive mindset picked up these TEN insights.

1. Question the conventions

The Policymakers wish to develop unmanned missions. Stop relying on the ‘Mavericks’ with a mind of their own. Challenge ‘Mav’ to breach the Mach 10 barrier, to merit further funding. Maverick invites the wrath of the establishment by flying at Mach 10.4. Habituated to making a success of raw deals, he never shies away from questioning the and he is dealt. He signs up to train peak-performing pilots on a near-suicidal mission.

2. Mind barriers and self-limiting beliefs

The trainees, being the best of the best, believe that they know all there is to know. Mav dumps the flight manual. Reason: The enemy knows as much about the machine as they do; what neither of them knows is the limits to the human capabilities of the top guns. With that, he reveals that the group of "know-it-alls" doesn't quite know it all.

3. Not invented here: Shoot down or get shot down!

He challenges their limits to perform beyond their limitations and demonstrates his ‘class’ to earn his right to train. Invents a game wherein in he invites them to shoot him down and avoid getting shot down. Outmanoeuvred, the ‘Top guns’ do push-ups and eat humble pie. They shed their cockiness and bravado to open themselves up to learn the new tricks of the trade.

4. Reframing the measure of the task ahead:

The team is unaware that the "enemy" in the movie lies in an impregnable spot requiring the ingenuity of the pilot than mere technological sophistication. Mav highlights the need to fly along a narrow canyon to the target defended by Radar guided Surface-to-Air -Missiles (SAM). SAMs are lethal and designed to protect the sky above, but not the ground below! Therein lies the opportunity to fly below the radar and surprise the designers! Misjudging the ingenuity of the pilots, the designers presume no pilot to be foolish enough to fly closer to the canyons.

5. Gremlin: Abort the mission?

Habituated to high-altitude flying the team feels distraught.

Mav reassures the team by offering to therein them for

  • Flying at an altitude of 100 feet, maximum.

  • Control the speed to 660 knots

  • Hit the target with a single strike within 2.5 minutes.

The challenge is to perform or perish in 2.5 minutes.

Time is the greatest enemy. For Mav, merely fighting as a team and striking the target was necessary but not sufficient. A successful mission required a safe return to base.

6. Reckoning the reality of panic attacks and pressure psychosis:

A safe passage meant being just in time; neither fly too fast and arrive too early or be slow and fail to negotiate a steeper climb. A steep climb can cause pressure psychosis. The force of gravity works against the body compresses the lungs and drains the blood from the brain. Impair judgment and delay responding by reflex. When the skull crushes the spine, the lungs swell up as if to explode. The challenge meant manoeuvring the tortuous course without getting steamed up. Else be vulnerable and fail to eject in time to safety.

7. Befriend the adversity:

Mav augments reality and creates a simulated flying experience. The team begins by learning to fly at 300 feet and aims to complete the mission in 3 minutes! Just then the bar goes up by one more notch: The new mandate is to fly under 100 feet and exit within 2.15 minutes!

A successful mission required creating two miracles:

Miracle #1: Create an opening.

Miracle #2: Deliver the kill shot and destroy the target.

8. Inflection: Rely on unconscious competence

The mission demands acting by reflex.

Having no time to think, they are advised to act by instinct and not by impulse.

9. Fire drill:

The team goes through repeated trials to take a leap of faith:

The team reinforces their muscle memory to anticipate surprises and obviate any room for failure!

10. Gung-ho!

I would leave it to you to watch the movie and experience the twists and turns in the moments leading up to the climax.

I sign off for 2022 and wish you a great start in 2023.

I would greatly appreciate knowing how useful this review was for you.


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