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The First Two Rules of Leadership by David Cottrell

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Don't Be a JerkMake a Decision

“Why don't they do something about this? Everyone knows it is a problem. Why do they stick their heads in the sand?”

“Because that is what they do.”

—Two frustrated employees

On January 15, 2009, Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger took off on a routine flight from New York City to North Carolina. The flight would be no different than any of the thousands of other flights that Sully had piloted in his 42 years of flying airplanes—until it was. Two minutes into the flight, everything changed. A huge flock of birds flew directly into both of the plane's engines. More than 3,000 feet in the air, the aircraft lost all power and began slowly losing altitude.

In a flash, Sully was thrown into a situation that he never expected but had prepared for his entire career. He was facing the biggest problem that he would ever have to solve. He did not have to waste time trying to figure out what happened—he saw the birds fly into the engines. What happened was answered, but he had to quickly figure out what to do with the unexpected crisis.

His options were limited. He could attempt to return to LaGuardia airport, where he had taken off, or attempt to do something that had never been safely accomplished before—land in the Hudson River. He quickly made a decision to land in the Hudson. From the time he hit the birds until he landed was only 208 seconds. Only 208 seconds to make a decision, commit to it, and implement it. When the plane landed in the Hudson ...

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