I've been ill this week. That's not an excuse, more an observation. I've had a heavy head cold which makes it feel as though my head is full of dense fog in which moments of occasional clarity occur, usually preceded by an explosion of air and noise, otherwise called a sneeze! Putting the general inconvenience of this to one side along with the risk of passing it on to all my pupils, the bigger issue is what effect is this illness having on my ability to do my job.
I can still drive so that's alright then... After all being an instructor is basically doing what I normally do except in a different seat. So there shouldn't be a problem then, should there? I'm not so sure.
When you go on your summer holidays and fly off to some far flung sunny destination you probably trust the pilot of your plane. After all he's highly qualified and wouldn't knowingly risk your life. Working at 100% he will be looking after all his passengers and will be more than capable of handling any emergency that crops up. What if he is not feeling great, perhaps only 90% or maybe even less? Is he still as capable? Perhaps he will still be able to handle most situations as long as they are not too difficult. What if he's only 80%? At what point does his fitness start to become an issue for you? I am not sure I would be happy for anything as complex as a plane to be flown by someone who is not at 100%.
But driving's different isn't it? After all it is only one person I have to look after so if I'm not at peak efficiency it doesn't matter, does it? Actually, as an instructor I have responsibility for my pupil, other road users and myself. I cannot afford to not be concentrating or to be distracted by illness or anything else. I cannot afford to be less than 100% because if I am I may not be doing my job properly. So, what percentage is okay? 95? 90? 80? I'm not sure that anything below 100% is acceptable.
I'm not at 100% at the moment. Late on Wednesday I did a lesson which on reflection I should not have done. I was poor at my job. I misjudged a lot and although we didn't have any major problem we had a number of potentially dangerous situations. Ultimately the fact that they weren't dangerous wasn't so much to do with me as the fact that the situations did not fulfil that potential.
So, I've cancelled lessons over the last couple of days. It costs me, lets my pupils down and that makes me feel even worse. However, I believe that I have done the right thing. I have a responsibility to give my pupils the absolute best instruction they can get and I can't do that if I am not at my absolute best.
What percentage is good enough for you?