Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Remember: It's Your Job

In case you haven't figured it out yet, remembering things is at least half the job of being an air traffic controller. As it so happens I was listening to a program about memory on NPR yesterday. I had to email myself the program to make sure I would remember to write about it.

Science of Slumber: How Sleep Affects Your Memory

Hopefully, I already have your attention. Initially, I was drawn to it because my wife is concerned about her memory. As the show points out, the older we get, the more our memory lapses in day-to-day living. But the connection the scientists were making was in regards to sleep; the older we get, the more trouble we have sleeping. Well, once they put it like that, it seems blinding obvious doesn't it? Memory and sleep are linked.

But y'all don't read this blog to learn about old people. Therefore, I hope it's just as blindingly obvious how this research is important to people whose job relies so much on memory and...who seem to go so far out of their way to screw up their sleep. Just to hook you into listening to the show (or reading the transcript), here's a part of the conversation about college students.

"And I think if it had such extraordinary benefits to be sleeping at a polyphasic way, evolution would have naturally sailed off, sort of directional development along that pathway. The fact that we don't have that biologic pressure to have highly polyphasic sleep, I think, probably tells us something in terms of, truly, whether it's useful or not."

("Polyphasic sleep" is taking a lot of short naps instead of getting a good solid eight hours of sleep.)

Now, what I expect out of you is that you take note of the various eggheads interviewed for this segment of Science Friday and see what else they have to say about memory and sleep. Then, I want you to go read everything Dr. Earl Stein has written about memory and then, I want you to find out who the new kid the FAA has hired to replace Dr. Stein is and read what he (or she) has to say about memory. (If you didn't know the FAA hires its own eggheads you're really new or you're really behind the power curve.) You see, not only will all this make you a better controller, it will make you a better public servant. For one day, maybe, you might get a chance to talk to somebody with some real horsepower in Washington. Somebody with the power to change things. Take a look at this segment from The West Wing that I just happened to watch last night. (Stick with it. It takes a couple of minutes to get to the good part.)

Your chance meeting with a senior staffer at The White House or say...with the Secretary of Transportation won't go so well. You won't go in with a script from Aaron Sorkin for one thing. But you can say something important. And they might just listen. Or they might not. But that too can make an impression. Crazier things have happened.

What you do counts. Be good at it.

Don Brown
February 19, 2013

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Don, Great post especially the links. Worked CLT ATCT during the periods referenced. Same management team.