Several years ago, 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 I 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 me to develop the . . .

The Rule of 7: no disaster involving humans 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 or most other human-related disasters. And one of those 7 is always human error. It might not be the primary cause, but it is always a contributing factor.

Thus: they are preventable.

The Rule of 7 applies not just to plane crashes, but to catastrophes across a spectrum of widely different events, from a ship sinking, to a battle, to an emigrant party in the wilderness to tulips and a housing bubble.

For the first book I wrote about this, I picked 7 disasters to apply the Rule of Seven to. I examined the Cascade Events that lad up to the disaster.

What can we learn from 7 catastrophes that is relevant to us and could very well save your life and that of others?

We are more powerful than we believe in the face of catastrophe.

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