Hazardous Attitudes in Paddling

kayak at sunset on lake superior

Recently, I’ve been studying for a pilot’s license and came across an interesting way to think about attitudes that might get you into trouble. These attitudes appear in the FAA’s (Federal Aviation Administration) Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge and are described as a predisposition that motivates a person to respond to people, situations or events is a manner aligned with the attitude. They identify five hazardous attitudes that interfere with decision making:  anti-authority, impulsivity, invulnerability, macho and resignation (see page 2-5).

You can look for these attitudes in yourself and your paddling partners. Once you identify that you know they exist, you can overcome a hazardous attitude by redirecting the attitude to a correct action. The FAA suggests several steps in overcoming the attitude:

  1. Recognize the hazardous attitude by examining you state of mind or partner’s state of mind.
  2. Label the state of mind as hazardous.
  3. State the corresponding antidote. The FAA suggests memorizing the antidotes, so when you recognize the attitude, you can instantly take corrective course.

Anti-authority “Don’t Tell Me.”

This is an attitude where you don’t want anyone to tell you what to do. It can be applied to an actual person or rules and regulations or concepts that you might think are silly.

The antidote: Follow the rules. They are usually right.

Impulsivity “Do It Quickly”

This is the attitude of acting before stopping to think about what to do and what the best alternative may be. It’s just doing the first thing that comes to mine.

The antidote: Not so fast. Think first.

Invulnerability “It Won’t Happen to Me”

This is the attitude of thinking that nothing can happen to you. That means that you’re more likely to take risks even though you know that incidents and accidents do happen. You just think that it won’t happen to you.

The antidote: It could happen to me.

Macho “I Can Do It”

This is when you want to prove yourself to your peers. You want to make them know that you are better than anyone thinks you are. You are going to show them. You end up taking risks just to impress other people. While it uses a male terminology, women are just as susceptible to taking risks to impress others.

The antidote: Taking chances is foolish.

Resignation “What’s the Use?”

This is thinking that you can’t make a difference in what happens to you. It’s the belief that things that go well for you are the result of good luck and when it goes bad it was because of bad luck. Or that an outside force is causing the good or bad results. You will often leave the actions and decisions to others and go along with unreasonable actions because you are a “nice guy” or “nice gal.”

The antidote: I’m not helpless. I can make a difference.

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  • Very nice guide for life generally! Thanks! Now, off to memorise & practice

  • I was thinking the same, discussing these with my teen. And darn good advice for paddlers. Nice post, Bryan, and beautiful photo.

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