Just Seven Things

Exploring why and how we do what we do, and how we can do it better

Fighter Pilots and Window Fitters

http://careers.avjobs.com/careers-directory/Military-Fighter-Pilot.asp

Two completely different jobs made me think over the last month or so about focus and immediate action.

We’re in the middle of having windows fitted. In the middle of what I’ve calculated to be 88 man hours of work to replace 100yr old windows and frames with exact replicas in a 4-bed house. Now I think that’s quite impressive anyway. I could talk about expertise and professionalism. The skills built up over the years by the tradesmen in the company that we’re using. However, it’s their immediacy of action that is down-right staggering.

Day One. Minute six of them being in the house. One old window out. Two men literally walked in, accepted our offer of cups of tea, rolled out a dust sheet as they walked in and up the stairs and into the bed room and then quickly covered the closest furniture to the windows. Drills and crowbars out. Window out. Six minutes.

And this pace of immediate action has been maintained over the last 48 hours. They’re in at nine. An hour for lunch. Away at four. What’s massively noticeable compared to other tradesmen we’ve used is that everything is action focused. They only seem to take breaks by drinking the copius quantities of tea we provide them at the same time as swiftly discussing their next immediate action. Brian Tracy would be well proud. Fully frogged-up.

Then when I was running early one morning, piercing blue sky, and the white streak of a fighter jet streaking across the horizon. My thoughts about that fighter pilot’s role hit me all at once. Total focus. Absolutely no distraction. Allow in the distraction = Death. No ‘quick check of the email’ during the middle of writing that Board paper. No thinking about what to watch on telly that night. Pretty sure they’re not allowing the pressure of admin into their focus on the important activity of keeping a c.$138 million bit of metal from crashing and losing your life at the same time.

So, must remember when working: focus like a fighter pilot and work like a window-fitter…….

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