As I write this article I am sitting in an A321-neo aircraft heading from Auckland to the Gold Coast for an Airports Conference
I had in mind to write about" being in the moment" when undertaking activities , i.e. focussing on the present, not thinking about other things, the list of jobs to do, or the email or text that just pinged on your phone, or the holiday or project you are looking forward to at Christmas. All of these things are distractions, and we have all seen what can happen when a person is distracted whilst "doing a job", examples include losing control of a vehicle whilst texting, not being "on the page" when asked a question in a meeting, or stepping backward off a platform without edge protection.
Ironically the topic was reinforced as we departed Auckland 40 minutes ago, and ascended to cruise altitude, and moved into lumpy trans-Tasman air. After the safety briefing, which I observed many people not to show any interest in, the seatbelt sign remained on due to the bumpy air. A PA announcement was made to the effect that whilst the seat belt sign is on, passengers must remain seated. The same sign remained on for another 30 minutes. In that 30 minutes I observed 10 different passengers get out of their seats, access overhead lockers, wander to other end of the aircraft or to go to the toilet. Most were advised by cabin staff to sit down, and further PA announcements were made.
I really scratch my head at this behaviour, Were the passengers in their own distracted world?, did they not understand the briefing or announcements?, were they being deliberately disobedient? I also have sympathy for the attendants who are trying to maintain some sort of control in the cabin. I don’t know the answer to the questions above, but my short time period of observations perhaps go some way to explain why we still have stubbornly high rates of injury or death in the workplace, on the road or in the home whilst undertaking those handyman projects.
It's worth taking the time to reflect on whether you are really in the moment when you are briefing someone on a task, have you explained it adequately – or given it the once over lightly?, if you are being briefed, how much attention are you paying?
As we head into the summer season and holiday season, it is also worth thinking about the activities you intend to undertake outside of the work environment. It is that time of year when the home" handyman" gets to work, whether it be painting the roof, building a new deck or pergola, or tackling the jungle garden. These activities are just as or more hazardous as the activities we undertake in the workplace.
I wish you all a happy and relaxing break, but urge you to think about being in the moment, focussing on the task at hand, and cutting out distractions during critical activities, so that you and your loved ones have many more happy times together.
BECA and Safety Charter Board