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Slow is smooth, smooth is fast

Senior Master Sgt. Jason Kreider

Senior Master Sgt. Jason Kreider Commentary

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio -- We live in a fast-paced society. Crazy, hectic schedules keep us constantly on the move.

Racing to get the kids to school, the next practice or game, and to work. Pushing hard to finish a tasker, ready an aircraft for a sortie or respond to an alarm. We are always pressing forward at a rapid pace.

That fast pace can also lead to small mistakes. Who hasn’t rushed out of the house, only to ask yourself five minutes down the road, “Did I turn off the stove? Did I close the garage door? Did I lock the house?”

How many times have you hit “send” on that email only to realize you left a critical piece of information out, sent it to the wrong recipients or attached the wrong document?

It happens to us all.

Throughout my career, I’ve had the opportunity to attend numerous tactical shooting and small unit tactics courses. A common theme throughout those courses was the phrase, “Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.”

In combat, seconds matter. As we progressed throughout the training, we slowly built muscle memory to conduct rapid reloads, transition from our primary to secondary weapons and move from cover to cover.

Rushing to conduct a rapid reload, you can easily have difficulty removing the magazine from your pouch, miss the magazine well or forget to send the bolt forward. All of those “mistakes” can cause you to lose valuable seconds. Seconds that matter.

Slowing down just a bit and taking time to ensure the task is correct can make the difference between success and failure.

NASCAR pit crews execute four-tire stops in roughly 12 seconds. It’s amazing to see these teams execute a smooth stop and gain their driver valuable track position that leads to a win. But these teams can also lose a race for their driver.

If the tire changer misses tightening all the lug nuts, that can lead to a loose wheel and take their driver out of contention. The gas man pulls the can too early, he can leave his driver a lap of fuel too short and cost them the race.

Those top-tier teams practice making smooth pit stops. Those smooth pit stops translate to quick times on pit road, often leading their driver to victory lane.

While we may not be engaged in a firefight or have a race on the line, taking a “slow is smooth, smooth is fast” approach can help us execute our mission more efficiently and safer. Rushing through a task opens us up to errors, missing a step or even danger.

Whether it’s completing paperwork, securing an aircraft panel, working on an electrical circuit or performing surgery, rushing through the task can be costly. It can cost us time, money, or lead to an injury or death. Taking the time to ensure you are smooth with each task will lead to you being faster.

It is very easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle. We all need to take a step back and slow down. Slowing down just a bit allows us to ensure the task is done right the first time. It also keeps us in the fight.

Although many of us think otherwise, we are not machines that can run at full speed all the time. If we try to operate in that manner, we can quickly burn out. It can take a toll on your health, and we can’t afford to lose anyone in the fight.

Find those opportunities to take a step back, relax and recenter yourself. We need everyone ready, focused and smooth.

While it may be easy to correct that simple “mistake,” it takes time. Time that is valuable.

As you go about your day, remember to slow down. Execute your tasks slow and smooth, and put us in victory lane. Take that extra second or two to ensure you “Get it Wright.”