Leadership Ideas, Information and News

Monday, June 24, 2013

'Lucky' people take personal responsibility for their own success

Commentary by Lt. Col. Mickey Evans
55th Communications Squadron commander

6/24/2013 - OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. (AFNS) -- "She's so lucky! He has all the luck!" Just like you, I hear these phrases thrown around from time to time.

I've often been taken somewhat by surprise when I hear one of these comments. Don't get me wrong, I think there are times when truly random events of good fortune happen.

Take for instance the lady that recently won $590 million in the Powerball lottery! That's got to be luck, right?

However, I've watched some "lucky" people and noticed a few common traits and characteristics.

Lucky people are prepared. They show up for work ready to fulfill their role in the mission. If there was research to be done to prepare for a task, they've done it. If there's a pertinent Air Force instruction, they've read it. They know when their physical fitness assessment and their performance report is due and what ancillary training they have to complete.

Lucky people don't procrastinate. Their career development course needs to get accomplished - check. Signed up for a primary military education course by correspondence as early as possible - check. Service dress needs to be squared away for an event next week - check. The fact is, the pace of our daily mission is so fast, we usually don't know what curve ball is going to be sent our way tomorrow. Lucky people understand this and take care of what they can today.

Lucky people seem to have a plan. Those people with whom I work closely, often hear me say, 'Hope is not a plan.' For me, hope is four-letter word. Most of the time when I hear this word, it tells me the person talking really has no idea what they're talking about.

Perhaps unbeknownst to them, lucky people seem to have the same philosophy. They know how many pages of the Professional Development Guide they have to study each week to be ready for their promotion test; they don't 'hope' to get through it. They know what they want to score on their next physical fitness assessment and have a plan to get there; they don't 'hope' to do well. They have a plan with definite goals and milestones and they stick to it.

Lucky people take personal responsibility for their own success. They don't wait for their supervisor to tell them what to do or wait until the squadron sends out a roster of overdue ancillary training. They are aware of what is required and take care of it. If they fail, they take responsibility for it and perhaps most importantly, learn from it, and move on.

Lucky people are disciplined and balanced. It's very easy to let one facet of our lives overwhelm the others. Most of us have many titles such as spouse, father, supervisor, student, et cetera. By capitalizing on those traits, lucky people self-regulate their time to ensure each facet of their lives gets the attention it requires.

Finally, I think lucky people have a heightened sense of situational awareness and take full advantage of it by being fully engaged and armed with information. They listen to their peers and mentors and follow their advice. They know where to find information and stay on top of the latest news and opportunities. Because they are informed, they often seem one step ahead of everyone else.

Lucky people get that choice opportunity or assignment because when the eye of the Air Force looked around for qualifying candidates, these people have taken personal responsibility for their success and taken care of everything in their control.

Lucky people don't need to get ready when an opportunity presents itself; they are ready because they took care of business as early as possible.

It boils down to this: good fortune, or luck, is usually the result of focused hard work and dedication that resulted in a level of ability that was available when an opportunity presented itself.

Best of "luck" to you all!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

'Be the best you that you can be'

by Senior Airman Earlandez Young
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

6/11/2013 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Monday Fairchild Airmen gathered at the base theater to hear from a walking-talking representative of Air Force history.

Retired Chief Master Sgt. Walter Harold Richardson, an original member of the Tuskegee Airmen, hosted an all call for Team Fairchild, to share some inspirational thoughts to Airmen and his history.

Richardson volunteered to join the U.S. Army Air Corps in January 1949. During Basic Military Training, he auditioned and was selected to sing with the Tuskegee Airmen's all military traveling show called "Operation Happiness". It wasn't long after he arrived to his first duty station with the group at Lockbourne Air Force Base, which had the only all colored air base group at the time, when base leadership announced Lockbourne would be closing.

After Lockbourne was ordered close, Richardson was selected as one of 1,500 enlisted African Americans to be integrated into white squadrons to form the U.S. Air Force. He completed 30 years in the Air Force ending his career as a chief master sergeant.

"I'd like to share with you what I consider my recipe for success, and I should leave you with something to carry away as part of the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen," he said at the start of the all call.

He said the recipe for success is a very self-challenging process, and he repeated this statement a second time to ensure the audience heard him.

"You have to be convinced and determined on your own that you want to be successful."

The long-time Tuskegee Airman added, he desires to be successful and is successful because of the country he lives in.

"I live in America, and America, even with all this misunderstanding, still leaves doors open for people to walk through them and become successful," he said. "Even at this moment in life, I am still seeking the full success I was born to achieve. Success can start at anytime in life you want it to."

He said to the audience, when he thinks of success, he thinks of elementary school in the early to mid 1930's which he called the beginning of his affection for America.

"Every morning, at the beginning of the school day, we placed our right hand over our hearts and pledged the allegiance to America and sung 'My Country, 'Tis of Thee' with much undeveloped tiny voices.

"When we finished singing, we'd bow our heads, pray the lord's prayer and our school day would begin. And during those early years, the pledge of allegiance and 'My Country, 'Tis of Thee' took on more meaning for me. It meant I was a citizen of America, a country in the 1930s that was on the rise."

Throughout the all call, Richardson stressed to Airmen something he was taught in elementary school that has never left his mind after taking advantage of many opportunities, challenges and obstacles.

"Be the best you that you can be," he told them. "If you start something, finish it."

He wanted Airmen to know everything they do as servicemembers is to better America and being their best is a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week task.

Richardson was animated when he pointed around the theater at Airmen and said each of you were called on to be the best that you can be for America ... America is your employer.

"Love your country, study its history and become acquainted with the song "My Country, 'Tis of Thee'," he said. "I believe everyone here will take and utilize one of these many thoughts I've shared with you.

"We have overcome things far worse than the crisis we are in today. We've come across the rigid bridge of racial discrimination, differences in gender and other things that would probably be a show stopper for others."

During his closing remarks, Richardson looked around at female Airmen in the room and gracefully said "I am so proud of you."

Female Airmen smiled with thanks.

"Women, you all have overcome some of the most difficult challenges -- more so than the Tuskegee Airmen and colored Airmen did at that time," he said. "Now, you are pilots, commanders and even generals. You've overcome some tough obstacles, and now you can be whatever you want to be in the greatest Air Force in the world."

Then he sung with the same profound voice he sung with when he auditioned for 'Operation Happiness'.

The song had many inspirational messages, but two words were said throughout the song. I believe.

And he kept singing, "I believe. Yes, I believe."

"Why do I believe," he asked Airmen.

And he answered, "Because I believe in you."

The theater 'roared' with applause.

"I thank Col. Newberry and his staff for making my stay at Fairchild truly enjoyable," Richardson said. "It's always a pleasure for me to visit an Air Force base and see the progress the greatest Air Force in the world has made since I joined 64 years ago."

Filling squares

Commentary by Senior Master Sgt. Vincent Miller
2nd Maintenance Squadron

6/12/2013 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. (AFNS) -- As Airmen, we are more than familiar with the need to fill the proverbial squares as we strive to progress in our military career.

To be competitive for awards and promotions, we must commit ourselves to goals such as education, passing the fitness exam, and community service. It is through completion of these expectations and requirements that we become better leaders, managers and Airmen. However, somewhere along the way, we fail to internalize the importance of why we fill these squares.

In reality, the squares are designed to make us better and provide a separation between the willing and unwilling -- the committed and uncommitted. The squares help identify Airmen who are motivated and willing to go the extra mile to better themselves, their team, and the Air Force. It is this drive towards self-improvement that separates one from the masses and establishes his or her true identity.

One square that requires a great deal of commitment is the pursuit of education. As we continually strive to become that "whole person," we must challenge ourselves intellectually and work toward attaining a certification; associate, bachelor's, or even a master's degree. Attending school is not easy and takes sacrifice. It means spending your time writing a research paper, while everyone else is enjoying the weekend. It means taking your textbook on the flightline and studying every chance you get. It means being the security forces Airman I saw reading a biology book while eating breakfast in the dining facility.

At this moment some of you are saying there is no time to attend school; high operations tempo, 40-hour work week, and spending time with family are a few reasons that prevent you from taking classes. Additionally, some of you may feel we should be evaluated solely on work performance.

Honestly, these excuses are hindering you from progressing and improving yourself. If you continue to hide behind them, like I once did, you will never take yourself to the next level.

It took a long time to realize that fear and toxic excuses prevented me from seeking an education. Constant mentorship and a few one-way "conversations" from a chief master sergeant propelled me down the road of education.

Dedicating yourself to filling the squares is a decision only you can make. By filling them you demonstrate the willingness of constant self-improvement and unwavering commitment, which directly benefits you, your team, and the Air Force. Filling the squares also establishes separation from your peers and it is through this separation that you are most likely to fulfill your career aspirations and goals.

The choice is yours and yours alone. Be willing to accept the consequences. Don't say, "He/she only got Senior Airman below-the-zone because he went to school." Rather, you must say, "I lost because I chose not to go to school. I chose not to fill the squares."

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Excellence in all we do

by Airman 1st Class Stephanie Ashley
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs

6/5/2013 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, recently visited Airmen assigned to the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot Air Force Base, touring various work centers and conducting an all-call to remind them that what they do is critically important to the nation.

The general said one of the main focuses of his trip was to get eyes on the wing commander's current priorities. He explained that every wing commander has different areas of concern and added that certain issues do not get enough visibility, making it essential for major command leadership to come visit.

The 5th Logistics Readiness Squadron was one such wing commander priority, and Kowalski said LRS had set a standard that was important for him to observe.

"We looked at how they (5th LRS) had done improvements to up-armored humvees that saved the wing a whole lot of money," Kowalski said. "More importantly, the 5th LRS now has the highest in-commission rate for up-armored humvees in Air Force Global Strike Command."

The general added that saving money is a top priority for the Air Force, especially given the Department of Defense's tight fiscal situation. Budget restraints have led to a smaller allotment of flying hours for pilots Air Force-wide, and Minot has not gone untouched by these adjustments.

In addition, 522 civilian employees working at Minot are scheduled to be affected by furloughs this year, but Kowalski said by prioritizing tasks and working as a team, Minot would have no trouble continuing to support the mission and ensure readiness during the furlough process. Despite these changes, he said Minot was not only meeting mission requirements but exceeding them.

"I just gave the Castle Trophy to the 5th BW commander, so I think that says it all," Kowalski asserted. "The 5th BW is doing well, has done so in the past and will continue to do so in the future."

However, the general did emphasize the need for Airmen to use the Strike Now initiative to find innovative means of accomplishing the same amounts of work with less funding. Strike Now is a tool that allows Airmen and their supervisors to double-check for previously suggested solutions to their problems and bypass working through issues that have already been resolved.

"There's a fair amount of work that goes into the implementation of an idea," Kowalski said, in reference to the fact that Airmen and supervisors often lack the time in their day to complete such a process. "I've put it on the headquarters to use this database to find ways so we can always be better."

He also clarified a key aspect of the program is that the only person who could say no to an idea is the AFGSC commander and as such, he is able to have a final say on what should and should not be put into practice.

"Every idea that is being disapproved has to be briefed to me before it can be sent out," Kowalski explained.

He went on to praise Minot's continued success as a base, whether during inspections or exercises. He said this is due in no small part to it being such a closely linked community, and said the base reflects well on the Air Force core value of service before self.

Why enforce the standards

Commentary by Master Sgt. Vincent Brass
8th Operations Group first sergeant

6/7/2013 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, South Korea (AFNS) -- In the military we constantly refer to "the standard." Most standards are developed within Air Force instructions or technical orders. They are what sets us apart from our civilian counterparts.

Webster's dictionary defines a standard as "something established by authority, custom, or general consent as a model, or example." We weigh our performance reports and sometimes administrative actions off of our ability to meet the standard.

As a first sergeant, I consistently find myself reminding Air Force members from all Air Force specialty codes of the standards. Most times I get a similar response; the member corrects the action and continues on.

Sometimes I get asked, "Shirt, is it really that big of a deal to have my hands in my pockets?" I ask you, is it?

What or whom will be impacted by the staff sergeant or captain with their hands in their pockets? Honestly, probably no one.

Ultimately, what it comes down to is, which standard is OK to deviate from? The Air Force uniform standard, Air Force instruction 36-2903, was developed to provide us with guidance on how to maintain a professional image at all times.

How we wear our uniform is not only important to how the population of our great nation views us, but also how we pay respect to the men and women who have worn it before us and will continue to wear it long after we are all gone.

In my humble opinion, there should be no standard too small to enforce. Whether it is in a uniform standard, a security forces instruction, or a technical order that tells our maintainers the correct torque specification to prevent catastrophic failure while our pilots are in flight; all standards are developed to ensure mission success.

One of my mentors in the Air Force, retired Chief Master Sgt. Atticus Smith, used to put it to me in a manner that has stuck with me ever since.

"When we begin to pick and choose what standards we will enforce, we begin to accept mediocrity as the standard," Smith said. "When mediocrity becomes the standard is when the mission will fail."

I ask you now, why is it a big deal to enforce the standard?