Fighter Pilot, Maj. Jameel Janjua on situation awareness, focus, and optimal performance

Saturday, August 19, 2017 | 0 Comments

Major Jameel Janjua, experimental test pilot with the Canadian Armed Forces, shares ideas on how he stays appropriately "switched on" given the needs of any performance situation. His world, much like in medicine, is a high-pressure, high cost of failure performance context. Jameel provides rich insight on a range of human factors, and high-performance related topics. Among those he touches on include performing under pressure, maintaining situation awareness, the need for attentional flexibility, preparing to respond to the unexpected, and critical task prioritization. Throughout the discussion we draw parallels between the conditions he performs under and how, from a human performance standpoint, these might mirror what physicians face in their work.  


08:27 Jameel describes what attributes make for a great fighter pilot

  • The central role that passion plays
  • No such thing as fair-weather fighter pilots
  • Resilience matters
  • Harmonious and obsessive passion


17:21 Cultivating an ideal focus, and performance mindset

  • Attentional flexibility and task execution
  • Preparation (training and simulation) drives “in the moment” focus
  • Staying perceptive in critical AND non-critical moments
  • Engagement: Going from 0-100 and all points in between
  • Maintaining focus during benign performance moments


33:30 Communication and pilot focus

  • Differences in comms between combat vs. test missions
  • Personal “housekeeping” tasks to stay focused in flight
  • Playing the “game of contingencies”
  • How comms during test flights can enhance focus, performance, and safety
  • Micro breaks to defocus and then re-focus
  • “Buying risk”: The need to be in an optimal state


46:32 Switching on when the unexpected occurs

  • Focus first on mission critical tasks
  • Keeping the main thing, the main thing
  • Train and simulate FOR the unexpected
  • Train to your breaking point…and then go further
  • Knowing the “attentional revisit rate” for each task/procedure


58:44 Recognizing those who have “it” and those who don’t

  • “It” as a function of being teachable, open, humble, and driven to improve
  • Further, “it” comprises the ability to rank, and stack, and execute important tasks and decisions in critical moments
  • Arousal control and “it”





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