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Why The End of “Stow Your Devices” Makes Me Sad

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On two cross country flights last week, I unexpectedly marked the end of one era and the beginning of another. I had read, with great joy, that the Federal Aviation Administration intended later this year to abolish the requirement that passengers turn off and stow their electronic devices between the closing of the cabin door and reaching 10,000 feet. The implementation of the change snuck up on me.  I was taken aback last week when the flight attendants on United said that we could leave our devices on after the door was closed.

At first, I was thrilled.  I kept reading articles and checking my emails with abandon. As we started taxiing toward the runway, I was reading and swiping away waiting for a flight attendant to come up behind me and tell me to turn it off and put it away. It felt weird that that never happened.

Then I noticed that absolutely no one was paying attention to the preflight safety announcements. Just like so many other places in modern life, everyone’s eyes were fixed on the screen in their hands.

I started feeling sorry for the flight attendants. I wondered what it’s like to stand there in the aisle sharing information that could save lives in the event of an emergency with no one paying attention.

It made me sad, actually, that we could all keep our devices out. An airliner was one of the last places on earth (or above) where you were forced to stow the device. As much as that used to annoy me, I realized last week that it was for my own good. It kept me safe and it made me slightly more mindful. Even though I don’t have to anymore, I think I’m still going to stow the device when they close the cabin door.

How about you?  What event is coming up this week where it would be a great idea to stow your device even though you don’t have to?

Executive coach Scott Eblin’s goal is to help you succeed at the next level of leadership. Throughout the week, he’ll offer his take on the leadership lessons in the news and his advice on your most pressing leadership questions. A former government executive, Scott is a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and is the author of The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success.

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