Do the things that will help you grow as a person, a spouse, a teammate, and a leader. There is no cookie cutter box that this needs to fit into. College is important, but is not the end all. Are there tools, such as Microsoft Excel, that would make the shop run smoother and the only way to figure it out is through YouTube videos, so you spend a weekend learning how to use the data analytics application? Come in Monday and build your new SOP, you just saved man hours and money. Pick up a good book and read it.
When I have a new NCO, I give them a copy of Starship Troopers. Yes, it is a sci-fi book, and when I give it to them, I challenge them to identify the chain of command lessons to be gleaned from the storyline. Starship Troopers was on the Commandant of the Marine Corps reading list the year I made SSgt. A good friend of mine who was a Marine SGT had already read it as he pinned on a few months before me, giving me the recommendation to learn lessons as I grew into an NCO.
Our community includes everyone within your unit and other units, the base, and the city sitting outside those walls. Everyone watches and takes mental notes about how you carry yourself and how you conduct yourself, everywhere, both in and out of uniform. Treating everyone with dignity and respect is crucial to being a good ambassador.
In addition to being a good ambassador, doing the right activities also helps build that community bond and promotes esprit de corps. Have purpose when deciding what things to do within the community. During one assignment, my boss knew I was a big baseball fan so he invited me out to go umpire Little League Baseball with him. He was confident I would be motivated, learn the rules, dress appropriately, and be on time with the right gear because this was an interest of mine. Over the years there, I moved from umpire to coach and the league invited me to sit on the board to help with administration. Those moves were purposeful because I still got to umpire games for levels that I wasn’t coaching in, as well as take on new challenges, all while serving the community.
The same purposeful choice is necessary for the on-base community as well. I have a mentor that anytime they asked for a volunteer to lead something, he gave my name. Some I would politely decline due to timing, but others I was happy to accept. An example is the time there were three volunteer opportunities at once, the Treasurer position for a private organization, the AF Ball committee, and CCAF graduation. So, there I stood, suddenly running in an election for a position I had no clue how I was going to manage, being told go be our representative for the Ball, and plan a graduation. I fortunately wasn’t running unopposed and quickly threw my support to the person who wanted the position. I politely declined the Ball representative job because I didn’t have the time. I just smiled and took the CCAF grad because I had previous experience with graduations in AETC, and also knew this would be more complicated and I would learn something new since I would be using Wing Protocol and FSS coordination.
Let’s work together to develop ourselves and make our communities better, that is what the whole airman concept is pushing us to do.
Make it happen.