(To be clear: I am not going to go back and forth and derail the thread. This will be the full extent of what I have to say on the subject. However, given that you have presented a choice between letting an unsupportable accusation borne of a personal bias of your own creation hang out there as representative of an entire collective of good, supportive, and quality individuals or digressing for a moment to support that group or defend them from baseless accusations which spring from a well of frustration, misunderstanding and anger, I will choose the latter every time.)
Perception often differs from reality.
You paint for the public a picture wherein even the slightest single mistake is pounced upon, dissected, and the individual never afforded the opportunity to grow from mistakes. While I know you believe this to be true, you can’t honestly claim that this assessment is made with any semblance of clarity.
All of us make mistakes. I still err from time to time. Gary makes mistakes. All of us do. We know that. Which is why one mistake or “every mistake” would never be the impetus for a lynch mob or a roast or any of the things which you suggest. Not only is that contrary to reality, it’s unfair to paint such a portrait to an unsuspecting community-at-large who may take that as a reason to become discouraged from joining or otherwise engaging with what, if you were truthful with yourself and others, you would admit is, on-the-whole, an extremely supportive and cooperative community of members who share a common passion and common goals.
We all stumble along the way, and learning is never over (in IFATC, or in life), but as a collective we are not there to step on the necks of those that make mistakes, but to serve as a pooled resource of knowledge, ability and understanding to take those mistakes and turn them into improvement. How one perceives, or receives, feedback is entirely up to the individual, but you cannot grow without it.
Some take hints and tips-and-tricks from people that have been at it for years, such as Gary, as a perk of being part of a group with so vast a pool of knowledge and perspective. For example, having Gary teach me Radar facilities was a great boon to my abilities, especially because he was able to correct things. Had I simply decided that I didn’t want to hear what I was doing wrong at the time, there would have been no chance I would eventually become [I hope] a fairly capable controller. I would have been stagnant; ignorant of my mistakes, shortcomings, and the need for improvement.
Having veterans around to tell you where you have room for improvement is a bonus, not something to loathe. It’s all in how feedback is received. You may choose to use it to grow. Or not. My first ever tower session, I got laughed at for allowing patterns in low visibility and yelled at by another supervisor (I obviously wasn’t even able to control bravos at the time, so I was an unknown quantity) for not letting him perform a crosswind landing.
Yeah, I got mad. At myself. For not knowing the visibility rules (which I knew thenceforth) and for not recognizing the need for flexibility. But had no one said anything, all that would have happened would have been for me to continue doing things improperly until I was eventually in the same situation down the road. So, yeah, it’s frustrating, but it’s also a tremendous benefit to have others around that know more than you do to help you along the way. The day you think you know the most in the room is the day you’ve begun lying to yourself. There is always something to learn. Some, like me, are always searching for opportunities to learn or improve, and this occasionally has to come from perhaps making a mistake and hearing about it.
But, there’s another way to respond to feedback or utilize the vast pool of knowledge that is this fantastic collection of real-world ATC, pilots, or just enthusiasts. That is to ignore the former and dispense with the latter. This path leads nowhere. Or, perhaps, just elsewhere.
Some choose to take any assessment which isn’t glowing as a personal affront and make under-handed comments about it in unrelated posts rather than grow from it. That’s certainly their prerogative, but it’s not surprising that those with this attitude rarely excel. Here, I’m not speaking only of IFATC. This is true in all facets of life. The smartest people, those that achieve the most, in life; these are the people that never lose the desire to learn and certainly never live under the false premise that they already know everything and that there is a point which one can reach after which no growth is possible.
Success is borne of failure. Of noting those failures and growing from them. Tesla. Einstein. Ford. Wright. Edison. I mean, the list goes on forever. None of them succeeded at the snap of a finger. The Special Theory of Relativity wasn’t scribbled on the back of a napkin, and scientists have spent the last century putting it to the test in every way possible. Our creations; our work; they exist for others to examine. And, from time to time, that may include a critique. How we choose to react to those critiques is paramount. Ideally, we welcome them and grow from them. Sadly, however, some choose instead to turn them all around on those offering the critique in lieu of ever examining themselves or their own performance, and unfortunately, this method isn’t very conducive to growth.
Often, you’ll find that the latter group is of a certain bent personality-wise. Maturity certainly helps. You’ll find the people least likely to acknowledge they’re the best at something typically are some of the best. Those that simply want to turn every personal flaw around to point out those in others, rather than acknowledge room for growth or admit to an error of any severity, generally not.
IFATC wasn’t created as a cool badge to stick on your name or whatever. It was created to provide quality, consistent controlling for the Expert server. It’s a customer-service-based organization. It’s not for us, it’s for the pilots. In order to maintain that quality and consistency, sometimes feedback is necessary. None of us are immune. I still screw up. Gary still screws up. We all do. No one expects anyone to be perfect.
We only expect that individuals make an honest attempt to improve from the feedback they do receive. Most of the time, this is the case, and someone like me who didn’t even know what IMC was got maybe slightly better along the way. Occasionally, someone would rather just point the finger right back.
It’s unfortunate, but it happens.
However, let’s not for one moment accept the assessment of those few as an honest one, instead of simply a heaping helping of sour grapes.
IFATC contains a vast array of backgrounds and areas of expertise from which to draw which is, frankly, amazing should you choose to use it. At any time, I can, and do, ask real-world controllers or pilots how they would do something or if they think I should handle such and such situation differently. This is a tremendous collection of knowledge from which to draw. And never have I felt it anything less than a true community. Just look at bonds which were formed slowly over time on an IM application into true, real-life friendships at places like Orlando, or Vegas, or OshKosh.
Say what you want about the IFATC community, but don’t portray it as something less than supportive when that is simply not the case, or even remotely adjacent to reality.
But, as stated, we do exist for the pilots, not ourselves. We need to maintain a standard or consistency and quality if pilots are to have a favorable experience on the Expert Server. And, just as one pilot who didn’t like getting caught taking off from the ramp doesn’t color the experience of all pilots, the experience of a single controller who refused to learn from past mistakes is not indicative of the group as a whole.
We have the ability to report pilots. I say ability, not power, because when you start thinking of it with that frame of reference, you lose perspective on why we really exist. Yes, we can report pilots, but that’s not why we control. But, since we can indeed do that, it does matter, very much so, how we, ourselves, behave as both controllers and pilots. Whenever a member of IFATC is controlling or piloting, they are representing not just themselves, but the entire IFATC community. And, because of that, a member cannot simply expect that any- and everything that they do is immune from any and all criticism. That model simply wouldn’t work.
Whenever you control; whenever you fly, you represent the entire team. If pilots see IFATC piloting in a manner which would get them reported but the member isn’t, they would be upset and sense a double standard. And, they’d be correct. That’s why it matters how you represent the team every time you hop in the tower. Every time you hop in a plane. Other pilots don’t just see your name. They see IFATC, and any actions of yours are actions of ours.
So, yeah, occasionally feedback comes in the form of criticism. We’ve all been on the wrong end of it at one time or another. It’s how you use that feedback that matters, and, in the end, how you decide your own fate.
As I said, I’m not going to go back-and-forth about this. I think it’s fairly evident that I put a good deal of care and thought into this response, and I hope that will be borne in mind as you read.
But to paint an entire community with that broad brush as you did above is simply not fair. It’s not fair to the good people and quality controllers who devote a lot of (voluntary) time and effort to performing at their very best. Good people and quality controllers who were not 24 hours ago your coworkers and supporters.
Please do not suggest to those that are applying, training, or thinking about applying that this community is one of bullies and thugs just looking to hop on your every small mistake. If you were truthful with yourself, you’d admit that’s not true. Hopefully, those in the groups mentioned are not discouraged in their pursuits by such an unfounded, off-base assessment. It would be a great disservice to them, and to people whom I’m glad to call my friends and coworkers.