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The Top 3 Mindset

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Johnny Grassi
  • 20th Medical Group

Recently I was a panel member when an noncommissioned officer asked me the following question, “What advice do you have on how to accomplish what feels like an increasing number of taskers and requirements being asked of us and my Airmen on a daily basis?”

I took a strategic pause to gather my thoughts and this is what I gave for an answer. Take the Top 3 approach. Why? Because, in the Air Force, three is a powerful number.

For example, the success of the Air Force is based on 3 core values; our wing commander’s credo consists of 3 words: Unify, Simplify and Win and the 20th Fighter Wing’s Enduring Priorities consists of 3 parts: Mission, Airmen and Family.

For me, I found I became more productive when I adopted a Top 3 mindset. The process begins each morning as I review my to-do, tasker and idea list.

All the items on the list need to be done but I do not have the time to tackle all of them at once, so I prioritize the top three most important items as my day’s focus.

I found through experience trying to accomplish more than three tasks at a time often would only allow me to do a little on each task, and at the end of the day I really did not make any progress towards completion because I stretched myself too thin.

I would also ask you to take the Top 3 approach with your team. I find that we, as senior leaders, often keep adding taskers and requirements for our Airmen to complete but we fail to help prioritize these requirements using the Top 3 mindset.

When we do not use the “Top 3 mindset” our Airmen feel overwhelmed because they are under the impression all taskers, additional duties, training and reports must be done now, and now they are working extended hours and that is how burnout, mishaps and job dissatisfaction happens.

Col. Derek O’Malley, 20th Fighter Wing commander, has stressed many times, that there will be times when we may have to work to the brink but that cannot be the norm.

So start your day by planning your day with the Top 3 mindset. During your roll-calls and huddles, validate to your team so they understand what the top three priorities are for the day and what can be done at a later time.

Finally, the Top 3 mindset is not just only for work but also on a personal level as well. My personal top three is comprised of my work, my family and my future (after retirement). It works at all levels, now let the Top 3 mindset work for you and your team. Now, who has the next question?