Parcel folks seeking wisdom could learn a lot from an unexpected source — the cockpit! Much like supply chain management today, the 1930s were a time of transition for air transportation from its pioneering days to an established industry. What follows are modern interpretations of the Ten Commandments for airline pilots published in the May, 1939 issue of Aviation (now know as Aviation Week & Space Technology).

Don’t Show Off: Originally an admonishment against hot dog flying, in modern business language this would be: “Don’t show off — show up!” Nobody appreciates someone who steals the limelight, or squanders resources. Instead of showing off what you can do for your boss, or your company can do for a customer, show up with a professional attitude and offer a smart alternative.

Know Your Limitations: Don’t over-promise to your customers. Too often managers succumb to the temptation to promise more to get the deal. Set realistic expectations early, deliver consistently on those expectations, and when you beat them, your efforts will be that much more appreciated.

Don’t Take Things for Granted: Nobody will resent you checking on the details, whether it’s your supplier, customer, co-workers, or subordinates. If they have things covered, it’s an important opportunity to reinforce rapport and keep you situationally aware.

Get Away from Home: This refers to leaving your comfort zone. Good managers should challenge themselves to apply their skills in new situations and also to learn new skills. You never know when you might have to seek a landing in a strange airport, but keeping yourself sharp on basic skills and principles in your job ensures that you will succeed no matter where you go.

Watch Your Weather: Take the time to step back and look at the big picture in your environment. What trajectory is your industry on? What about your company? Or your customer’s industry and financials? Storms can be sudden and unpredictable, but most weather gives warning, and forewarned is forearmed.

Study the Regulations: Know your business. Some rules should never be violated, such as safety rules. There’s no excuse for a worker or customer getting hurt due to ignorance. Whether safety or managerial in nature, most mistakes result from ignorance of established regulations and procedures.

Choose Your Friends: Be careful who you listen to. This commandment originally served as a warning that some fellow pilots’ stories of aviation derring-do were likely made up, and dangerous. This advice for modern logistics managers is still good: be careful who you choose to imitate, and the “glory days” likely weren’t all that glorious if they involved a lot of “living on the edge.”

Think Ahead: We can leave this one verbatim as it was written in 1939: “Take time out to consider all possible things that may happen to you and decide in advance just what you will do under all circumstances.”

Set a Good Example: No matter where you are in a business, there’s always someone looking up to you. This may be a younger co-worker, a tired boss, or a customer. You never know who you can inspire to do what’s right, and likely they’ll return the favor. Be the person who others would trust to imitate.

Those 10 commandants ended with this last bit of advice which I leave for you to interpret on your own: FLY HIGH – FLY FAST – KEEP YOUR NOSE DOWN ON TURNS!

Dr. Michael Gravier, PhD, CTL, is an Associate Professor of Marketing and Supply Chain Management at Bryant University in Providence, RI. He is also the 1st Vice Chair of the Institute for Supply Management’s Logistics & Transportation Group and can be reached or (401) 232-6950. Membership in the L&T Group is open to all current ISM members who are responsible for or have an interest in Logistics & Transportation. Group Board Members are current practitioners, consultants, trainers, and educators.