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Deliberate Development

Professional Development for the Military Leader

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Career Success

Daily Deliberation: 12 August 2017

A good friend of mine once told me that excuses only make YOU feel better. What is the point of an excuse? No one has ever thought, “He really screwed me over by not following through on what he said, but at least he had an excuse.” Whew! It is important to get to the root of the problem sometimes and that is what we think we are doing when we make excuses. “I was late, because of traffic.” The problem is still there, you were late. Instead of worrying about making yourself look or feel better, try saying what you will do to fix the problem. “Sorry I was late guys, let me take the task no one else wants.”

Daily Deliberation: 10 August 2017

There was a young SSgt who worked in our training detachment. He wanted to be an officer more than anything to have a better life for his growing family and to have a larger impact on our service. Initially, his scores were too low and he had to raise them to get his shot. This young leader would come to work early to study, be in the books every chance he had, and continue to study at home. Also, he taught more than most instructors and appeared to be a damn good dad and father at home. He was driven. His hard work paid off and now this Lt has a larger platform to inspire others and I am certain he is striving to be the best in his new job. What is driving you?

Daily Deliberation: 9 August 2017

Many of us probably have no clue why we are here on this earth. Some believe we were created to do something. Some believe we are here as a product of chance. Whatever the cosmic cause of our existence, the fact is we are here. Now the real question is, what are we going to do with the 1,440 minutes we have each day? We have the choice to add value to another; we can take from others; or we can simply exist. What is your choice?

Why Do I Continue To Serve?

As a 22 year SNCO in the USAF I have been asked the question “Why do you continue to serve” many times.  It is usually posed as: Why did I join and why do I continue to serve past 20 years?  Simply put it is because I freaking LOVE this career.  There is nothing better to do and I cannot imagine doing anything else today.  I honestly do not want to do anything else because I get such great pleasure from caring for the Airmen that defend this Nation every day.  I know no greater joy than having an Airman succeed when they thought they could not, just because I was able to remove a barrier for them.  But it was not always like that.

My Air Force career began like most Airmen.  My life did not have a path or plan.  I just needed to go find a way to get a paycheck and a skill.  As my career advanced, so did my responsibilities, as a husband and father which led me to reenlist.  As I stayed longer, I was maturing and slowly coming to realize that serving in the Air Force was more than just paying the bills but was a possible career for me.  I did not notice that the Air Force was becoming as much a part of me as I was a part of it.

Eventually I was given the honor and privilege of becoming a Squadron Superintendent.  It was a turning point for me.  I had always sworn ‘I would do my 20 years and RUN away’ or ‘this was just a job’ or ‘this was a way to care for my family’ or ‘this was just something I was doing until I got a real job.’  However, when that Lt Col picked me to be his Superintendent something happened.  My world changed forever and I am so thankful.  It was not only a “significant emotional event” as he would say.  This was THE significant emotional (and THE transformational) event of my career.

Those two years as the Superintendent taught me so much and finally shaped why I continue to serve today (8 years later).  It taught me that my calling was not to make widgets as much as I thought it was.  It was to make the lives better for those who make the widgets.  Without them we cannot fly, fight or win.  My job was to remove the barriers for those who do greatness.  It was to stand beside the Commander and help them make the hardest decisions so that the Airmen could just go do greatness.

I will tell you the first time you make an Airman’s life better, all the meetings and taskers and eSSS’ are worth it.  With each Airman who got home to their family quicker or received the assignment they needed or the cross training they wanted, it keeps getting better.  As each year has progressed I have loved this job more and more every day.  I cannot believe they pay me to do this and for the Airmen is why I continue to serve, so they can just do the job they love.

Recently I was reminded how similar my story is to many other Airmen.  When talking to a fellow SNCO about his Air Force Anniversary he wrote this to me:

“I enlisted because I didn’t have direction. I wasn’t succeeding in college (a 0.8 GPA!), lacked focus, and was feeling bummed out that my entitled dreams weren’t magically happening. Broke, I signed up with a ‘why not’ attitude, rather than a call to join the profession of arms.

My basic training instructor asked why I enlisted. I replied, “I don’t have anything better to do this week…” and I was telling the truth. That NCO thought I was being a smart-ass trainee, I did a lot of push-ups that day.

15 years later, I still feel that way, but for a different reason. The Air Force is made up of amazing people working to achieve goals bigger than themselves. We admittedly have challenges, but I believe that my service’s heart is in the right place. Our mission makes this country a bit safer, and we can count on each other as part of that team.

Point is, I still can’t think of ANYTHING better to do than this.”

Jon joined for his own reasons, but his reason to continue to serve has evolved just like mine.  He sees the greater things that all Airmen can do, which is to serve each other.  He has grown as a SNCO who I am so proud to have in my Squadron caring for our Airmen.  I have watched him take care of Airmen and place them in jobs where they have done more than they knew they could.  They received recognition and rewards that he ensured they received.  Many NCOs have come up to me saying what an impact he has had on them because of his leadership.  He is just one example of the many great SNCOs serving today that have realized the value and rewards of serving their Airmen and the Air Force.

We all may join for our own reasons, but when you get to the root of why any good SNCO continues to serve, they do it for their Airmen.  The Airmen that every day put their faith in their SNCO to take care of them.  The Airmen that know we will make their lives better, ensure they are prepared to defend the nation, held to standards and provided the rewards they earn for excellence not participation.  Great SNCOs continue to serve to provide their Airmen with an example of the opportunities that await them when they are the SNCOs.  I never could have imagined in December of 1994 that the plane ride out of Los Angeles would have brought me here today.  I am so grateful that I have the honor and privilege of serving Airmen, now why are you serving today?

Daily Deliberation: 5 August 2017

Are you open to feedback? I mean are you really willing to hear what others have to say? Most of us (if not all) will say we are…until someone tells us something we do not want to hear. Throughout my Air Force career, I have told people that if they asked for my opinion, I was going to give it. Every single person has always said that is good and they wanted my honest feedback…until they asked. I, too, have fallen into this trap where I asked for feedback and received some harsh responses I wasn’t ready for. At the time it hurt, but I soon realized there were things in there I could work on and fix. Find that person willing to be honest with you.

Daily Deliberation: 4 August 2017

The Navy SEALs coined an ideal that we do not rise to the situation; rather, we fall to the level of our training. Basically, we do not get magic super powers when we are faced with a challenge. Instead, we rely on our preparation. Whenever I have planned out a certain event, it never went as planned. I always had to enact at least one of the contingencies we built into the plan. However, there have been situation where there was no contingency for that specific issue and it was not pretty. I didn’t magically make it happen. Prepare for what you expect to happen tomorrow now and you will be ready.

Daily Deliberation: 1 August 2017

We are horrible managers of our own time. Case and point, we have no problem staying up just five or ten minutes longer to do something seemingly useless like scroll our phones or watch a fidget spinner infomercial. Then we fight the alarm clock the next morning because we are too tired to wake up. And that is how we start our day. If we look at the other areas of our lives, we will find a similar pattern. A time waste here prevents something else there. Look for those lost minutes in your day and spend them on something that matters to you.

Daily Deliberation: 30 July 2017

When I took over my current role, I noticed my team was afraid to make mistakes. They would strive for compliance and rarely attempted to innovate anything. They were afraid of failing and the kick-back from leadership. It took me about 5 months to earn their trust and show them I would not fatten their PIF if they tried something and failed. Don’t be afraid to fail or to let your team fail when it comes to them trying to make things better for the next generation.

Daily Deliberation: 27 July 2017

Why are the things that make us better so hard to do? Getting a gym routine in motion, changing our diet, stop chugging sodas, read more, etc. take major amounts of will power even though we know they are the right things to do. Making decisions as a leader often are very difficult too. Even though they are the best choices for the unit or the person, we struggle because we fear the backlash or loss in social capital. However, in the long run tough decisions always feel better. I feel better after a workout or when I am eating healthy and my team feels better when I have the courage to do what is right. Are you facing a tough decision?

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