October 24, 2011

Stay in Your Lane - Guest Post

A dear co-worker told me this story many years ago. I apply it to this day of reminding myself to stay in my lane. It is valuable and I share it with you so that maybe you can apply it to your every day. Too often I get wrapped up in what needs to be done either at work or home and I forget the task in front of me. Pass it on if you wish.

Watch Your Lane!
When I was a private in the Army I was learning how to shoot the M16 rifle.  The firing range is set up into lanes corresponding with each foxhole.  Each lane contains pop-up targets varying in distance from 50 meters to 300 meters.  During the qualification phase you are given 40 rounds with which to shoot at least 28 targets .  To qualify expert you must shoot 36 or more o f the targets.  This in effect gives you 4 extra rounds of ammunition.  Remember this it is important later.  Your mission on the firing range is to try to shoot 36 of your targets thereby  qualifying expert and making you a more valuable member of the team. 

As I was standing in my foxhole waiting to qualify, the range safety officer came over the loud speaker and said “firers, secure one magazine and hold it high into the air.  Now, lock and load.  Firers, move the selector switch from safe to fire.” And next came the most important words, “Watch your lane”!  At that point to pop-up targets would begin, well, popping up and your task was to knock them back down.

That lesson on the firing range holds true in business as well.  You should get enough “ammunition” from your boss to be able to complete the tasks assigned to you.  If you do not, you should ask for what you need.  Once you are given the ammo, “watch you lane” and start knocking out the tasks.  If you stray from your own lane you will be “shooting” your co-workers targets.  This is not needed because the boss gave them ammo of their own.  Plus, you may not end up with enough ammo or time, to shoot your own.  However, if after you have scored expert by shooting your targets, and you end up with some ammo and time left, feel free to assist your co-workers with their targets.  Teamwork is a great thing but, if you are doing all of your co-workers tasks for them and don’t get your own completed you are not being valuable to the team.

-Lee Ann Scasta

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