Joint Base Charleston


Stop and wind the clock

By Col. Michael Mongold | Mission Support Group commander | December 13, 2013

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- When writing an article, I try to consider what people are interested enough in to motivate them to keep reading versus moving on to the next article. In today's fast-paced world, everything moves at light-speed, so I'm guessing you will afford me about 10 seconds or less of your valuable time before you decide to keep reading or move on.

Wow, talk about pressure!

Do you want to read about my opinion on the most recent leadership book or article? Should I share a personal experience that you may be able to relate to? Should I focus on our recently completed inspections or talk about safety and the upcoming holiday season?

The list is extensive, your time is not. We have all been told that communication is a two way street. For it to be effective, you must have both, an active sender and a receiver ... one without the other equals a communication break-down. Therefore I ask only one thing from you; take a breather, take a minute, slow-down and keep reading. At worst you give me two or three minutes of your time, but on the up-side you may gain a new perspective in which to consider the world and events around you.

So by now (if I have garnered your attention), you are wondering, what does the title imply, what is this article about and where is it going? I will tell you that the theme has already been introduced. At work and at home, I want you to think about taking time to "stop and wind the clock." For some, this mantra may be foreign, so let me add some context by providing an example.

As our young pilots are going through flight training, they are regularly grilled by the instructors with every conceivable (and unconceivable) scenario; engines on fire, landing gear fails to extend, no hydraulic power, ice on the wings, bus load of nuns on the runway, etc. The instructors load as much pressure as they can on these young pilots to determine how they will react, and to analyze the student's thought process employed to bring the scenario to a safe conclusion. You may be surprised to learn that the instructors are not looking for the students to instantaneously start pulling levers, flipping switches and calling "mayday"; they absolutely do not want to see the proverbial "hair on fire." What they are looking for, is the student to stop and wind the clock; meaning to calmly assess the situation, consider the available courses of action (expeditiously) and start moving through the proper procedures in a thoughtful manner.

I believe you can see that taking the time to stop and wind the clock is not only applicable in the flying world, but the concept can be easily translated into all of our daily lives. This is the mind-set that when things appear to be moving at out-of-control speeds, when your co-workers are rushing around proclaiming "the sky is falling," when someone drops the "emergency of the day" in your lap; these are the times when it is critical that you take a step back and assess the situation. From a calm, thoughtful approach you are better prepared to meet and conquer whatever challenges are thrown your way.

This is not to say that there is never a time for quick and decisive action; certainly we can all easily identify these circumstances, but by-in-large, true emergencies that require lightning-quick reactions are the rarity, not the norm.

So as we head into the holiday season, I ask you to use the time to reflect. Is the world around you needlessly moving at break-neck speed and if so, is it because you and/or everyone around you are in the default position to immediately start flipping switches and calling mayday without taking the time to stop and wind the clock? If so, you may find that by taking a few minutes of thoughtful reflection at the beginning will save you much more time in the end and will result in a much better outcome.

Happy holidays!

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