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In a world full of distractions, be the steady leader your team needs

March 16, 2022
Thomas Wilk encourages all of us to find the still point.

This past weekend I went down a serious rabbit hole.

It started when my wife took our three boys to the local indoor trampoline park. Usually taking them is my job, as I can catch up on an hour or two of work on a Sunday while the boys play dodge ball, run the ninja warrior course, and generally jump until they drop.

But not this Sunday. This time, my wife piled the boys in the car and would be gone for the next four hours.

Four. Hours.

First things first, a quick tidy up of the living and dining room, followed by a taking the dog for a walk and then putting away the clean dishes.

Three hours and 25 minutes left. Wow – an eternity. Time to check email and take care of any unpaid bills. But first, time to read a quick article about The Beatles’ Let It Be sessions, where they recorded a few songs that would later appear on Abbey Road, songs like “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” Oh, this link says that song was ranked as one of the Top 50 heaviest songs recorded before Black Sabbath? Makes sense, and I love that song too.

What other songs made the list? “Communication Breakdown,” check. “Kick Out The Jams,” check. “Helter Skelter,” check. Wait, who are Arzachel and Andromeda? Those bands existed? There’s a song called “Distortions of Darkness” by The 31 Flavors? And The Sonics covered Little Richard’s “Keep-A-Knockin”??? Sheesh, I’d better head over to YouTube and take a listen...

About the Author: Thomas Wilk
Thomas Wilk joined Plant Services as editor in chief in 2014. Previously, Wilk was content strategist / mobile media manager at Panduit. Prior to Panduit, Tom was lead editor for Battelle Memorial Institute's Environmental Restoration team, and taught business and technical writing at Ohio State University for eight years. Tom holds a BA from the University of Illinois and an MA from Ohio State University.

Next thing I know, my family is walking in through the back door. Three-plus hours had flown by, and I had been able to put aside all the stresses of work and current events, and get lost for a time in a hobby I had forgotten that I loved.

So, why share this incident in the pages of Plant Services? What’s so special about taking time for oneself? For one thing, it was one of the few times in the past two years that I can remember being able to shut out the stress of both current events and the pandemic, and indulging in some uninterrupted personal time. It was a good reminder that everyday distractions are easier to manage when you feed your core passions.

I had also been thinking about Lee McClish’s book Maintenance Leadership 101, and on the points he makes about how effective leaders have the ability to stay both organized and patient over the long term. These points carry an important subtext, which is that effective leaders start with themselves, cultivating an inner stillness and confidence which they can call on to help drive improvements on the job.

The environments we work in are highly dynamic, where unplanned work and production hiccups are the norm. But as McClish says, “your department will be as organized as you are.” In my case, a three-hour dose of heavy garage rock both new and familiar snapped my focus back into place. And I didn’t even get through all 50 songs.

This story originally appeared in the March 2022 issue of Plant Services. Subscribe to Plant Services here.

From the Editor

This article is part of our monthly From the Editor column. Read more from Thomas Wilk.

About the Author

Thomas Wilk | editor in chief

Thomas Wilk joined Plant Services as editor in chief in 2014. Previously, Wilk was content strategist / mobile media manager at Panduit. Prior to Panduit, Tom was lead editor for Battelle Memorial Institute's Environmental Restoration team, and taught business and technical writing at Ohio State University for eight years. Tom holds a BA from the University of Illinois and an MA from Ohio State University

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