Dave Sanderson is a name some may recognize. On 15 January 2009, international headlines were made when US Airways Flight 1549 ditched in the Hudson River off Midtown Manhattan. As the last passenger off the back of the plane, Dave Sanderson’s experiences on that day acted to shape the message he spreads as an author and motivational speaker.
The core of that message is found in his Paper Napkin Wisdom: “Being resourceful is the key skill to move from being good to being outstanding.” For Dave, “The Miracle on the Hudson” is a case study in resourcefulness. While he never could have known what was to happen, he believes it was more than coincidence that he was on that plane, citing the fact that he had given up his first class seat on another flight to be there. In the end, his resourcefulness and that of others, including the captain who drew on his training to glide the plane onto the river without colliding into the George Washington Bridge, saved lives.[Tweet “Being resourceful is the key skill to move from being good to being outstanding”]
But Dave notes that resourcefulness did not just begin in the moment of crisis. A lot of intentional work had gone into being resourceful. His time in the business world had provided him with valuable training and he had absorbed a number of skill sets. For a decade prior, he had had the opportunity to work with Anthony Robbins, who emphasized that being resourceful is a skill set. He learned that people often think they cannot do something if they do not have certain resources but, if there is a will, there is a way. Says Dave, “Resourcefulness is a mindset. It is, ‘You never take no for an answer.’”[Tweet “Resourcefulness is a mindset. It is, ‘You never take no for an answer.”]
Of course, saying we will not take no for an answer and actually doing it are different things. Dave offers insight as to how this philosophy can be applied. For him, a good leader focuses on the outcome and helps to guide others in that direction. When an obstacle presents itself, as will invariably happen in any venture, solutions may not always come readily. Dave believes a leader helps his team to break the trance that may be keeping them stuck behind that obstacle by asking better questions. For instance, rather than asking, “How can I solve this problem?” ask “If I could do it, how would I do it?”
And yet, as much as Dave values the training he had that prepared him for his role in helping passengers off the plane and onto safety, he is mindful that resourcefulness is more about applying what you know at that moment in time than it is about technique. For different people, that can mean different things. For some of the passengers on Flight 1549, simply knowing to take a step back while others led was their way of being resourceful. That was not Dave, though.
Dave believes the first thing a leader does to be resourceful is they put themselves in the right state of mind. When Dave heard the words, “This is the captain, brace for impact,” he knew he had to put himself in the state of mind to survive. Once the plane began to settle after impact and he saw the light, he knew he could take care of himself. He then looked around and asked, “Can other people?” Though he encountered obstacles, including a passenger who plead with him to be left on the plane, he did not exit the craft until everyone else had safely made their exit.
Listen to the conversation with Dave here: