The Ingredients of Heroic Recovery

Now I have come to the moment of truth - or, at least, to the moment of delivery. Now I must match my words to the promises made in the initial chapter. What does it take to make a heroic recovery?

I could simply repeat the titles of the heroic recovery chapters: training, discipline and leadership; sheer unadulterated professionalism; luck and skill; and inspired improvisation. But these smack of motherhood statements. The problem is that it is relatively easy to say why things went wrong - I have spent a lifetime doing it. But when it comes to explaining why things went right, the usual logical expedients - necessity and sufficiency - don't have the same bite, particularly when chance, contextual and individual factors play such a significant part. But how can we frame the answers to the question set out above in a way that can be transferred to others? This is the challenge I have set myself here and in the rest of this book.

This chapter will be structured under three headings: coping with expected hazards; dealing with unlikely (even very unlikely) but possible hazards; and generic qualities, those that could contribute to successful recoveries in any emergency. The problem is that many of these qualities exist within the heads of specific individuals. And there is also the harsh fact that nobody is at their best all of the time. But there is yet another thing: in any emergency no one quality is enough; they have to combine to produce a good result.

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