“I remember when I was brand new to the line and you pulled me aside to show me how to use the inspection cards better. I have used that technique every time I have taught someone.” This is something that a TSgt shared with me a while back. He was telling me at his going away how I helped him as an Airman to do his job better. Sadly, I don’t remember this exact moment at all, but I am so thankful I was able to help him. How many small moments have we all had in our lives where someone has impacted us or we have impacted them?
Ever since I was a teenager teaching martial arts, I have had a desire to share what I have learned with others. I believe my purpose is to serve others through mentorship so they can grow to meet their full potential and be able to grow others. One of those ways we can serve others is by taking advantage of the small moments. When we see an opportunity to pull someone aside and show them how to do something better or offer some growth feedback, we need to take it.
In my own mind, I can go back to scores of small moments where someone has done this for me and it altered my course. These were some of the most powerful messages I have received, because they were timely and relevant. When I heard some great advice or even feedback after the fact, it was helpful but not as relevant and the impact was not the same. There is something about the gesture of someone stopping what they are doing to take the time to work with me. This tells me on another level that it is super important and this person thinks I am valued. If they said let’s schedule a feedback session next week and we will go over this, I will not care anymore and they are actually inconveniencing me.
It is scary and humbling to think people are going to remember these lessons more than those we have carefully prepared. They are learning from how we handle certain situations and the timely advice we offer. I remember showing up to the flightline as a young technician and hearing “they taught you the right, I will teach you the real way.” This is a stupid comment on every level. What they taught me was to find a different trainer.
Sometimes we are the people who are remembered for moments like that. We are not always on our game and can have a negative impact also. There have been several people who have come up to me and said “you were a real @$$ to me that one time, but eventually I got to know you more and saw you weren’t.” All these were those small moments where I had a bad day or just not in the mood and made an off-comment or lost my temper. This is how I was viewed. I wonder how many people I did this too who have never given me another chance or still think this about me.
I have been at the same base for a long time now and have worked with or been around a lot of maintainers. In fact, there was a point when I was an instructor where I had taught at least one objective to over half of the Crew Chiefs at this base. Sometimes it is scary because people remember the small moments so well and I know I am not perfect. Because I have been here so long I do receive feedback on some of these moments from others; however, those of you who actually do move from base to base may not be so fortunate and may not have the time to undo a bad moment with a particular person.
We need to be cognizant of what is going on around us. As we are walking through our work centers or engaged in a project with others, we need to take advantage of the small moments. When you see someone struggling, go over and offer some assistance. Maybe it is just a little encouragement like, “you are on the right track and I will hang out until you are good to go.” There is rarely a day that goes by where we do not come across an opportunity to share something we have learned with a peer, subordinate or even the boss. Don’t let these moments pass you by because they are your chance to have a major impact on another’s life.