Do The Work

In 1978 an airplane that was scheduled to land in Portland had trouble with their landing gear. When the pilots put the landing gear down, they felt a strange vibration and the light which normally indicated that the landing gear worked did not come on. The crew requested that they be put into a holding pattern as they circled the Portland area trying to trouble-shoot the problem. The three cockpit flight crew spent an hour diagnosing the problem. Finally, they concluded that they would have to make an emergency landing. The crew believed that the landing gear was damaged.

Unfortunately, during the hour of trouble-shooting, the crew had been so focused on the issue of the landing gear that they forgot some of the other necessary monitoring routines that pilots usually conduct. Before the emergency landing could be made, the plane ran out of fuel. The crash killed10 and seriously injured 21.

On some emergency checklists, pilots will find, amongst the other items, the instructions to FLY THE PLANE. This call-to-action is a reminder to the pilots: Despite the need to be solving the problem they are working on, their main task is to keep the plane flying. Solving a landing gear problem doesn’t help anyone if the plane doesn’t have the fuel to land.

As a leader, you must remember to DO THE WORK also. You can get caught up in plans, problem-solving, and strategizing. You can be looking for new systems and solutions to your problems, but sometimes (most times) you just need to do the work that is before you. It might be nice to have a new payroll system that automated everything, but if you are consistently missing paying people because your energy is spent on researching new systems, you are missing the DO THE WORK step.

Whatever work is on your plate after you have reviewed the checklist in the morning, go out and sink your teeth into it. Do one thing at a time until it gets done. Do the work, make sure that gets completed in a manner that is good enough to move on (as Craig Groeschel teaches) and move on to the next thing.

Do the work. Keep the plane in the air.