A sense of urgency

  • Published
  • By Col. Ken Stefanek
  • 39th Air Base Wing vice commander
A sense of urgency. This phrase accurately describes everyone from quarterback Vince Young as he drove his Texas Longhorns to a come-from-behind victory in the 2006 Rose Bowl/BCS Championship game to Rocky Raccoon as he dodged bullets being fired from a balcony by Leon and his drunk friends. I'm sure many of you have heard the words "you need to show a sense of urgency" when describing how we should conduct operations during the upcoming inspection. My goal here is to describe what a sense of urgency really is and how you can show one to help the wing ace this inspection.

Before describing what a sense of urgency is, I'll share two things that it isn't. First, showing a sense of urgency does not mean rushing to complete a task. Trying to accomplish more than one checklist item at a time without referring back to the checklist is a great example of this. Rushing through tasks often results in mistakes and the need to re-accomplish tasks, prolonging the time required to actually complete the task. Secondly, showing a sense of urgency does not mean neglecting safety considerations associated with everything we do. Neglecting safety considerations results in injuring ourselves or damaging equipment, both of which slow mission accomplishment.

Having a sense of urgency really means that you are aware of the situation and are calmly ready to accomplish tasks when they need to be accomplished. Vince Young showed a sense of urgency when he got the ball with 6:42 left in the 4th quarter and his team trailed Southern Cal by 12 points. If you remember that game, he didn't seem rushed even as the clock was winding down. Instead, he calmly set about the task at hand. Rocky Raccoon definitely showed a sense of urgency as Leon and his drunk friends opened fire, but rather than panic, Rocky calmly took shelter in a near-by drainage pipe, negating the threat.

So how does this apply to you? First, with regard to being aware of the situation, inspections are obviously emotional events. Rather than get caught up in the emotion surrounding the inspection, you should try to act as you would if we were really doing the things we'll simulate during the inspection. If you treat every situation like you were really moving, destroying, protecting, or maintaining the assets we're simulating, then you'll be fine. In addition, showing a sense of urgency means that you should never be waiting for an inspector to call "ENDEX," as in real life there are no ENDEXs. Finally, you should be ready to calmly accomplish tasks when it's time to accomplish them. Rather than rushing through checklists, relax and perform the steps as you've done over and over in training. In the end, you'll find tasks are accomplished quickly and correctly by doing this.
General George Patton may have been referring to showing a sense of urgency when he said "Now, some of you I know are wondering whether or not you'll measure up under fire ... don't worry about that. I can assure you that you will do your duty." Like General Patton, I have no doubt that by showing a proper sense of urgency, you'll do your duty and we'll ace this inspection.