I’ve noticed over the years that the more experienced pilots are very aware of their limitations. They know what they can handle and what they can’t. They don’t seem to have as much ego involved and tend to be willing to say “I don’t know” and “I’m not comfortable with this” and ask for help much more easily.
I guess this self awareness comes from a lot of experience. The really experienced pilots don’t care as much about what people think about them and they’ve often quit striving look good all the time. They know what they know and they know what they don’t know. They’re willing to listen and learn from just about anyone.
I’ve often been able to judge a pilot’s experience by how much he talks versus how much he listens. Experienced pilots listen a lot more than they talk.
For myself, I remember having a much more inflated view of myself and my capability. I thought I knew more than I really did. I would try to “save face” in a lot of situations that I wouldn’t now. Now I am willing to say “I was wrong”, “what would you do?”, “Can you help me figure this out?” much more easily. I’m not egoless but I’m working on it.
The copilots at my airline rarely fail to impress me. I find their outlook and technical abilities to be outstanding. They know the airplane and they know the system and they’ve all got backgrounds doing amazing things from flying U-2 spyplanes to regional jet captains. I always learn from them. They are hired to do my job and could do it if only there were an opening on the captains list. In my younger days, I didn’t have the respect for others that I do now. I listen to these women and men and I learn from them like I never have before.
I thought I had all the answers and was the ace of the base.
Now I know better.
TL:DR Experienced pilots know their limitations and live within them. They are willing to ask for help.
Edit 1: Great comments. Read them if you have some time.
I was given this graph of the Dunning Kruger effect. I think it applies to pilots
I like this too: