Route Check!

August is upon us and Q3 is well in swing, although for many, it doesn’t look like any recognisable third quarter they’ve seen before.  It’s fair to say that this year is a little different to most, and we need to adjust ourselves accordingly.

Having set our annual goals and put measures in place to track their progress, the next big reassessment is normally at the end of September so that we can end the year on a strong note.  This year has been a little tricky…

To quote an article I wrote in 2018 entitled “When Life Knocks You Off Course, Use THIS To Get Back On Track”, “In aviation, being knocked off track is a given.  You may take off from A and aim for B, but nature and life are designed to make accomplishing that a challenge.  Whether it’s the setting of your directional instruments, a thunderstorm to go round, or just the wind that tries to side-track you, the accuracy of your course is something that requires constant checking and correction.  We even have a “rule of thumb” called the 1 in 60 rule to help with this.  This rule states that if a pilot has travelled sixty miles, then an error in track of one mile is approximately a 1° error in heading, and proportionately more for larger errors.  In layman’s terms, if you take off from Harare and head for London, unless you constantly check your track and make the adjustments needed, you could end up anywhere from the Atlantic to Brussels.”

Making the best of this year, and staying on track to achieve something powerful out of it, is going to require more constant route checking than your average year.  The weather is worse, the winds are stronger, and there are more snags at play than normal.  So much so, that many of us may have had to reassess our destination entirely, and opt for an alternate.  In aviation, we plan for these contingencies.  We calculate how much extra fuel load we’ll need to take to ensure we can reach an alternate destination if something prevents us from landing at our primary target.  We make sure we have the required route maps, approach plates and other information on board for our chosen alternate, and that the weather there is conducive to our arrival.

Rather than waiting for October to look at this year and ask what we need to do to squeeze the most out of it, we need to be checking our track monthly, and making whatever course corrections are necessary.

We do this by constantly asking ourselves “Where are we now?  Where are we trying to go?  What correction do we need to make to get there?”.

This year, our routes are littered with additional snags that are challenging our resilience to the max.  They are different for everyone, and may include such life changers as retrenchment, large shifts in business income, and perhaps personal loss of various descriptions.  At the very least, this year is requiring energy from us in new and different ways to what we’re used to facilitating.  Suffice to say, this year is a learning curve for us all, and I don’t believe that any one of us has the perfect solution.  What I do believe is that, as hard as we’re all trying to figure it out, it’s imperative that we remain kind to ourselves and to others as we acknowledge just what our constant refactoring is going to require of us.

In order to make the best of this year, it’s going to require a number of things.  Not only are we going to need to make far more frequent route checks to ensure our track is conducive to where we’re trying to go, factoring in snags as they arise; but we may need to opt for different destinations to the ones we originally planned for.  This is going to require strength and courage to let go of our original plans and acknowledge that big changes need to be made.  This requires energy, assertiveness and communication.

In making more frequent route checks, we’re going to have to significantly up our communication if we work within a team to ensure that everyone stays on the same page.  This year is a moving target and each team member will need to make adjustments.  For us to stay in formation will require constant comparison and support of the tweaks we need to make – both at work and at home!

Because these constant readjustments are going to require so much extra work and energy from us (don’t kid yourself), you’re also going to want to keep a watchful eye on your fuel levels.  What we planned for when we took off at the beginning of this year may turn out to be insufficient, even with the fuel we included for Plan B.  The last thing anyone needs is to run out of fuel without realising it and have to make an emergency landing at an unplanned destination.

Keep an eye on your fuel levels.  Remind your team members to do the same.  Fuel is anything that’s going to keep you going and allow you to reach your destination – be that personal energy, or business resources.  If it starts to look like you’re running a little lean, you may want to put down somewhere and refuel.  We’re looking at a long-haul flight here that’s going to require some creative planning – do what needs to be done before it needs to be done – certainly before it grounds you indefinitely, or worse still, permanently.

There is no “standard” for this year, and the journey is different for us all.  It will require creativity, constant reassessment, and kindness.  If you’re up for it, it’s highly likely that the combination of these three things will birth new directions and new innovations that would have otherwise taken you years.  It will push you through thinking and require elevated decision making in far shorter times than you’re comfortable with.  It will require sacrifices and letting go.  It will also require reconfiguration and stepping up.

Keep checking yourself.  Check your team mates (especially the quiet ones).  Check your route and how you’re tracking.  Make corrections accordingly, and make whatever decisions fit with what you’ve designated you’re trying to achieve.  And, when necessary, nominate an alternate destination because you know that’s achievable and you can finish strong.

by Christen Killick

August 3rd, 2020

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