Yes, that’s a plane that crashed just short of the runway. Why? Because the pilots shut down the wrong engine. And people in the rear of the plane knew it, but didn’t say anything.

Years ago, m wife (who is terrified of flying) and I became very interested in a television show titled Seconds From Disaster, which aired on National Geographic. Over the seasons it covered just about every plane crash and numerous other disasters. And we noticed a startling commonality. No plane crash just happened. There was always a series of mistakes, miscalculations, negligence and other events leading up to those final seconds and the disaster. Which led us to develop the . . .

The Rule of 7: no crash happens in isolation or as the result of a single event. It requires a minimum of 7 things to go wrong in order for an airplane to crash. And one of those 7 is always human error. It might not be the primary cause, but it is always a contributing factor.

I then started studying other catastrophes in different fields. Ranging from leadership (Little Big Horn) to maritime disasters (Titanic, Sultana) to economic (the Tulip Bubble) to the Donner Party to others. And the same thing played out. Always at least 7 things went wrong. One was always human error.

Thus—most disasters can be avoided if we study past ones.

The scary thing is we don’t know how many times we’ve been to a Six, and didn’t cross the threshold into the disaster.

The positive thing is we are more powerful than we believe in the face of catastrophe.

A catastrophe involving humans does not happen in isolation.

In fact, with enough knowledge and preparation, many individuals and organizations can avoid catastrophes altogether, and if caught in one, survive.

I wrote two books about this, each covering 7 great catastophes in each. I’m going to discuss the theory and some of these in this blog over the coming weeks, even as we meander into epic disasters in the present on multiple fronts.

Hang on. It’s going to be an interesting ride.

Two of these disasters are free short reads:

The Donner Party.

Mulholland and the St. Francis Dam Disaster.

The books are:

Stuff Doesn’t Just Happen I: The Gift of Failure

Stuff Doesn’t Just Happen II: The Gift of Failure

The Green Beret Pocket-Sized Survival Guide (same as above, minus the preparation part in order to be smaller in print)

The Green Beret Preparation and Survival Guide. Also in Kindle Unlimited.