Urgent and Important

Another great lesson recently—I had my “head down in the radar scope,” well, OK, it was my laptop, while sitting in the airport after a great week at Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium and I failed to realize a former associate was just feet away.

By Anthony Rock

Bottom Line: I was letting the urgent overcome the important, and it turns out what I was focused on was not that urgent anyway. Feeling the tap on my shoulder, I looked up to find a star action officer (much more junior than me) who’d worked for us in the Pentagon. and he forced me to get my head “out of the NW corner of cockpit.” Lesson, and really just a blinding-flash-of the-obvious (BFO): Don’t allow what you are doing in the moment to cause you to miss an opportunity. For me this was a chance to socialize a bit with my warrior brothers and sisters and “renew the blue.” Here was example of “the urgent overcoming the important!” As my good friend, Mike “Bo” Boera, says, “Sometimes, good leaders just have to look outside.” Read Mike’s LinkedIn article. I now wonder about unintended consequences and how many other opportunities flew by me in the last couple of years without me even realizing it. I guess I’ll never know.

Every encounter has value. I do intend to weave this experience, and my colleague’s proactive correction of my poor situational awareness (and therefore potentially a lost opportunity), into my leadership lessons. This includes “what right looks like, or not-so-much” for both my behavior and my colleague’s. He could have just headed off to his gate and never reached out—it would have been my loss, not his. My education and professional development continue…lesson learned…learning’s a life-long journey and doesn’t come with a syllabus and a graduation date. To my colleague—I’ll protect your identity in my telling of the story, but as I mentor young(er) leaders there’s an important teaching point in what happened yesterday, to include self-awareness and root cause analysis and “how I’ll do better on tomorrow’s sortie.” Thanks for quietly (probably even unintentionally) correcting my buffoonery!

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Published on May 7, 2020 by

Dick Eassom, CF APMP Fellow