I Know You Are…. But What am I?


“What is your capacity?”  To me, the question sounded like a challenge.

At work, capacity is defined as the limit of aircraft operations a particular airport could handle at any given time.  Different sized airports, have different capacities.


Recently, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) set  goals to improve capacity.  As an Agency, we realized that the number of operations was increasing rapidly, and would soon reach the limit; we had to figure out how to adjust our procedures to accommodate the increase, while still maintaining safe operations.  By including several stakeholders into this discussion, we were able to come to a conclusion that met the need.  For now.

This question though, was more personal….  What is MY capacity?  In other words, how much can I handle? What is my limit?

The assignment was how do I determine my capacity; what can I handle and remain healthy?  And how can I improve my efficiency?

My first steps were to define what I do, how I do it, and what is considered success.  Measuring what I do was difficult because it is usually defined in vague terms of availability, relationship, and even more vague, preparation. What am I preparing for? How do I know when I did well? Sometimes it takes years to determine if a relationship was deemed a success.

The people asking me this arduous question meant well, their approach was excruciatingly challenging to me, and yet I found benefit in the exercise that they offered to improve my efficiency.  By creating time blocks on a calendar representing the priorities or events I intended to accomplish, they said I could anticipate when a certain task should be completed.  They had the approach to schedule a time to accommodate the new priority or improvement, and if I reach my capacity in my schedule, I needed to choose to remove an item or toss the new.  In my job I’ve learned to be a juggler of sorts.  I was not able to keep a schedule, and truth be told, I really have no interest in keeping a schedule. I learned to create a rolling task list.  I keep a list of things I have chosen to do as part of my priorities or goals, as well as times for appointments I need to keep.  If I get a full list, I start pushing things off for later, if I find time to pick up a project, I do it early.

As a technician for the FAA, I was in a service oriented position. We had routine maintenance, staff meetings, and scheduled events that had to take place, but as soon as I could make my plan, something would break and I needed to respond.  I didn’t have the luxury of planning the repair into my ideal week.  I could not tell an air traffic controller to put everything on hold while I readjust my schedule.  No, I jumped into action with my teammates and we fixed what was broke.  The rolling task list shifted, and everything got done just a little bit later.  To say there was stress involved is an understatement. But I loved it, I thrived in those conditions. Ironically, I never thought about the thousands of lives I impacted in a day.  But I am sure they appreciate my team’s commitment to immediate response.

ImageSomewhere in this controlled chaos, I chose to volunteer as a Sheriff’s Chaplain.  Building relationships with the law enforcement officers to manage their stress and serving as a liaison during next of kin notifications.  I don’t remember a call that came at a good time.  Most calls came at the end draining days, just as I would crawl into bed, getting ready to fall asleep, my pager would sound.  I remember my standard prayer: God, I need you, I don’t have anything to give this family, please minister to them through me.  I could feel the rejuvenation occurring as I got dressed in the uniform. By the time I was in my car I was able to sing praises.  When I met the officer, I was fully awake.  And when we met with the family, I was fully prepared to minister to the family’s needs.  Several hours later when I got home, I was ready for bed again, and rarely did I need to call in sick the next day to sleep it off.  I became used to the provision of the extra,.  It was never for me, but always to minister to another.

Today, my job has shifted quite a bit, but my “scheduling ” routine hasn’t.  I am part of a team that writes hands on training procedures for FAA technicians, bridging the knowledge gained from technical schools to the application of skills needed in the airport and flying environment.  While my plan can last a bit longer, I still have interruptions, others bring their need to the team to attend to or fix.   And while I am not a chaplain anymore, I still have the opportunity to meet with people and minister to them, being available and attentive to them.  It is rare that I get much heads up, and yet, I have had only a few scheduling conflicts.  It is an eclectic mix of skills, gifts, abilities, and desires.


Through all of this, I’ve asked myself how Jesus did what He did?  How many people did Jesus heal in a day?  Did He pass by some without providing healing?  Could He sleep at night knowing that He didn’t solve all the world’s problems that day?  I think He slept well, I think He knew His purpose, and didn’t feel guilt for missing a task here or there; He also took time for just having fun.  He stole away early to prepare each day in prayer.  Even though He was fully God and knew who He would see, He was a man and knew how to meet His limits with prayer.  We all believe Jesus could’ve changed the world on His own, but He chose to show us how much we need each other, Him and teams.  Actually, this will be a thought for another blog.

My desire today, is help you start to understand who you are, to be comfortable with yourself, and improve where you can.  We can’t do everything, We weren’t made to do everything.  Trust yourself, determine what needs to get done by you, follow the priorities you have set, take some time to have fun, ask for help if you need it, and leave for tomorrow what needs to be done tomorrow. Find rest, find fun, find your family

Oh, and to answer one of my questions….How do I plan to get better?  Read, build healthy relationships, prove I am trustworthy, and prepare in prayer.

How about you, how do you plan on improving?  As always, I’d love to hear from you; your story, your plans, your strategies.  As an encourager, I will listen, ask some questions, and hopefully give you a boost in the direction you choose.



R Bruce Montgomery: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rbrucemontgomery/4688967539/


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