ORI battle rhythm -- work hard, play hard

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Dave Clinton
  • 25th Flying Training Squadron commander
Battle rhythm -- those events a unit conducts on a recurring basis that set the conditions for success.
Translation -- determine what has to get done, prioritize the order in which those events get done, and pack as much into each day as you can, while still providing for the basic needs of your Airmen that allow for sustained performance over time. 

You probably know that the Army coined the term. What you might not know is that you probably already have a battle rhythm. Most of us have set aside specific times for required tasks, e-mail, meetings, and suspenses that happen daily or on a recurring basis and then grimace when we realize we failed to schedule adequate time for additional duties and ancillary training. 

The majority of us though, after being in a new job for a while, finally figure out what it takes to get our job done right and get home at a reasonable hour. Caution -- your definition of "reasonable" probably differs from your spouse's. 

What is different now is we are six months out from an Operational Readiness Inspection and most of us are probably starting to feel a little pressure to micromanage, verify details, scour self-inspection checklists, and begin other ORI preparations. 

Regardless of how well we accomplish our job on a daily basis, we know there are additional things we need to accomplish to adequately prepare for an ORI. We are also wondering where we will find the time. If you're not, you should be. 

We need to find a battle rhythm that allows us to add some extra tasks into our already crowded daily routine that will help us reach our goal while also introducing them at an acceptable rate from a time-management perspective. 

We need a plan, we need a schedule of events, and we need to stick to it. What we don't need to do is procrastinate until January, then finally feel that sense of urgency and realize we have an insurmountable list of tasks to accomplish which will drive us to pulling a month of all-nighters. 

At the risk of using an overused phrase, it's not a sprint, it's a marathon and it needs to start now. We need to find our pace. We need to figure out what things have been neglected, need repair or some polish, prioritize by order of mission impact, then decide how many things we can check off the list each day while still leaving time in our week to achieve balance in our life. 

Balance is essential and is where the "sustainable" part of battle rhythm comes from. We need to remember to make time for the basic things that sustain us: rest, relaxation, family, faith, hobbies, or anything else that is important to our well-being. These things are critical and nurture our ability to maintain a higher level of performance over an extended period of time. 

Stated differently, we need to "work hard and play hard." This is a simple phrase, but probably has more wisdom than most of us would give it credit for. We absolutely need to devote ourselves to our responsibilities, to the mission and the people we've been entrusted with. 

But we also need to know when its time to stop getting yelled at, to turn off our blackberries and realize that we also have a responsibility to spend some time with the family members at home that support and are devoted to us. 

When the work is done, we need to make time to have fun. The "play hard" part of the phrase will strengthen families, increase morale, and allow us to return to work each day with a renewed sense of energy and the perseverance to tackle another ORI and make sure we are "in accordance with."