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Decisions Decisions

  • Published
  • By Capt. Jamie Humphries
  • 438th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
For some people, the first day on a job is worse than I-95 traffic on a Friday afternoon.

For others, the first day is an opportunity to prove yourself in a new environment, demonstrate initiative and prove your worth to new co-workers and staff.

How do you think Ben Sliney did on his first day on the job? Don't know who Sliney is?

Sliney was one of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration's National Operation Managers and is credited with ordering a national ground stop across U.S. airspace of approximately 4,200 aircraft Sept. 11, 2001.

His first day on the job ... Sept. 11, 2001.

Coming out of retirement to take the position and working in the FAA's command center in Herndon, Va., that day, Sliney closed down the sky over America.

How did Sliney make such a difficult judgment call under such extreme circumstances? Some would credit his more than 25 years of active air traffic control working in the FAA while others say he had great co-workers that performed well under pressure. But there has to be more to it, right?

With extreme chaos happening around him and his staff scrambling to figure out what was going on, Sliney made a calculated and unprecedented decision that impacted millions around the world.

Would you have been able to make that decision?

Each day, America's Airmen are trusted to make decisions around the globe. Some decisions are small while some could impact millions, and in combat the stakes are even higher.

Are you prepared to make tough decisions?

Overcoming indecisiveness is not easy but with a little bit of practice and confidence, you can control your anxiety, take charge of your emotions, and make rational and logical decisions.

Making decisions while upset, angry, hurt, frightened, desperate or depressed is not the best idea but if it were easy, we'd all have it mastered.

To ensure you make a logical decision, you may want to consider the following steps:

1. Define your objective
2. Consider your possible courses of action
3. Evaluate potential consequences
4. Gather and process your information
5. Assess courses of action
6. Implement your decision

Of course, these steps don't work for everyone and there's no defined method of calculation to ensuring the perfect decision is made. Some are faced with challenges and immediately have the answer while others must reach within themselves before making a tough decision. The key is to find what works for you and work within your own limitations.

I doubt Sliney had time to implement a decision-making process September 11. I doubt he had much time to do anything other than read and react to the situation presented to him.

Whatever the case, I'm glad he was the one at the controls making the decisions.