My Daily Preflight Checklist

This morning I stayed in bed 15 minutes past my alarm thinking to myself “what kind of person in their right mind would want to trade this for the brutality of the streets?” My bed was warm, my beautiful wife lie beside me, our dog was curled up at my feet, and the house was quiet and dark, peaceful.

My body was warm and relaxed. I didn’t need to be at the office for more than an hour. Why in the world would I want to break this peacefulness, get dressed, go outside in the freezing cold, and torment my body for 30 minutes only to arrive right back where my journey began?  The answer is my “preflight checklist.”

Most often I find myself putting out the fires around me.  I am concerned with output and results.  I rarely take the time to do what I call my “preflight checklist.”

Our company operates our own private airplane.  We have our own pilot whose job it is to fly us from A to B.  But behind the scenes he spends countless hours making doing his preflight check to  sure things are always in running order.  If he was only concerned with measurable output he wouldn’t bother checking the flaps, oil levels, fuel levels, logging the trips, filing flight plans, and checking the weather conditions.

Instead, he would only concern himself with flight time hours.  He’d fly from A to B, the C to D, and so on until the day was done.  But instead, he spends several hours a week maintaining the airplane to be certain everything is in excellent working condition.

I asked him about this one day and he explained to me that if the airplane isn’t operating at 100% safety and efficiency, there is no sense in even leaving the hangar.  The same is true about ourselves.  If we have not spent the time investing in our own well-being, there’s no sense in even leaving the bed.

There are 5 areas of life I feel are essential to each person and are used in a critical capacity each day.  These are, physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, and mechanical.  Without a preflight checklist that encompasses these 5 areas, you’re not operating at your best.

  1. Physical – I see too many professionals allow themselves to grow overweight and out of shape.  The heart is our engine and it must be well tuned.  Being a professional leader is tough on the body and tough on our engines.  Keeping our engine’s in top running condition is critical and requires hard work.  It is so important that George W. Bush used to run 3 miles four times a week as President.  His cardiovascular health was in the top 2% for men his age.  Source : http://www.assessmentpsychology.com/medhistory-bush.htm
  2. Mental – A clear mind is a sound mind.  Multi-tasking is a mental killer.  Focus on one task at a time and maintain a positive attitude.  Regular mental rest is a must.  Follow my 50/10 rule to keep your mind from mental overload.
  3. Spiritual – Spirituality is the basis for most people’s moral compass.  Keeping your priorities and morals in line allows you to make difficult decision in a routine manner.  When faced with a dilemma, such as, “should I work on this assignment or play on Facebook?”, your morals will guide you in the right direction despite temptation.  I personally pray every morning to refocus my moral compass and hit the reset button.
  4. Emotional – A can do attitude is often the difference between people who can and people who can’t.  Keep your emotions in check.  Don’t get too high, don’t get too low, and make sure to take the time to adjust your outlook as need be.
  5. Mechanical – Our pilot never fills the fuel tanks with anything less than high grade jet fuel..  Think of your body this way too.  Let’s face it, sugar does nothing to fuel your body.  It’s like filling your vehicle with a Slurpee!  You must consume high quality lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, and unsaturated fats.  It’s not easy to eat healthy but it is essential.

If you’re anything like me, maintaining this list will be hard to do.  It’s so much easier to avoid breakfast so you can have an extra 15 minutes in the office.  How about skipping that workout so you can finish a project? We’re all guilty of sacrificing our needs to accomplish our desires.  This, however, is a recipe for sub-par performance and lack luster output.  Take care of yourself, so you can take care of business.

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