Deliberate Development

Professional Development for the Military Leader

Daily Deliberation: 24 June 2017

Why is the fear of failing so gripping? I had a lot of fear when starting this blog. Putting myself out there in front of my peers thinking I could look like a total fool. I currently have fear about the next steps I will take after I retire next fall. The chance that we may fail scares us to no end. Over the years I have learned, it is scary to try something new; however, it is scarier to think about would could have happened if I only tried.

Daily Deliberation: 23 June 2017

The greatest success in our lives is when those around us succeed. Investing in myself has been extremely beneficial in many areas of my life for many different reasons. However, investing what I have learned into others, has always been the most rewarding to me. Nothing beats seeing one of our teammates achieving a hard-fought goal knowing we helped.

Daily Deliberation: 22 June 2017

I never understood why I would prefer to talk about doing great things as opposed to actually doing them. “I am going to get back in shape, starting tomorrow.” Or some other worthy goal. It is easier to just talk about it now, but it is much more difficult to deal with the regret of not meeting the goal in the future.

Daily Deliberation: 21 June 2017

My father once told me that if I want to be a champion, I have to run with champions. Back then I took it literally and sought those who were the fastest in my school and hung out with them. I eventually carried this habit into other areas of my life and realized true champions do something differently than everyone else. In fact, what makes them champions is that they do what others are not willing to do. While everyone else was out partying, they were in college classes. They stayed after the unit PT sessions and worked out some more. They waited a couple of extra months to save for something they wanted instead of charging it their card. Basically, if you are tired of not succeeding in some area of your life, look for something new to try.

Daily Deliberation: 20 June 2017

I love this idea. Not because I have hopes to become famous; rather, I want to master my craft to the point others respect the effort that went into it. When I watch those on my team teaching young Airmen, it is like art seeing how they present the material. Watching the Pro Supers on the flightline guide the masses through large formation exercises and make tough decisions in a timely manner, is something very few can do and takes years of preparation. Think of those you look up to and find ways to master your craft to match or surpass them.

‘Differentiate yourself’…what does that mean?

‘Differentiate’ is an illusive word that no one ever really elaborates on when it comes to the topic of promotions.  The reason behind that is as varied as the number of career fields out there—we do so much as a force that it is hard to pinpoint exactly what ‘differentiating yourself’ looks like.

As we examine the climate of the Air Force, it has morphed into one where we are self-focused and always trying to do something to make ourselves stand out under the forced distribution system.  I propose we refocus that energy toward a greater purpose—a purpose you can actually control to weigh in on that forced distribution quota.  Overall, we sometimes focus on the wrong things to ensure we are competitive for promotions—checking our ‘blocks’.  If we are navigating a dark room, sometimes the best way to see our way through that room is by not looking directly at the path we want to take, but catching a glimpse of it through our peripheral vision while focusing our gaze on other points in the room.  A counter-intuitive strategy, but one that works and one that can be applied as a concept toward differentiating yourself.

As an NCO, one of your greatest responsibilities is to develop your subordinates—a fairly broad heading that encompasses several actions.  That is a great place to start and involves a focus not on yourself but on others–like navigating a dark room.  The goal is to focus on others while proving your worth to assume the next higher grade.  A question to ask then, is what strengths do you have that you can pass to others?  Differentiating yourself as a leader means influencing others—how you do that is purely based on your abilities, perception, knowledge and experience.

Do you see a gap in your work center that you have the knowledge to bridge?  Take advantage of it and be the team player that takes responsibility for it.  We all know about problem areas in our workplaces.  As an example, I have a subordinate in my work center that identified an obsolete maintenance training simulator component and worked to correct it.  He actually gained some notoriety at higher command levels because of his diligence—it literally took him a day to do some research and compose a change request for the equipment.  A feather in his cap.  Something out of the ordinary that was not self-serving; he saw an improvement that was needed for him and his peers to do their jobs effectively and he jumped at it instead of complaining about it or wondering why someone had not done anything about it.  Who knows how long that has gone uncorrected until he showed up!  He focused on one thing that allowed him to take another step toward proving his ability to assume a higher grade.

Much of my success has stemmed from influencing others, not a focus on myself.  I had personal goals I pursued but I’ve found through several positions I’ve held that focusing on others has actually helped my career.  While I was never fond of some of the positions I held, I carried out my duties to my utmost because in the end I knew I would take something from those experiences.  I have taken all of my experience and poured it into my current position and its personnel—it paid off big time.  My team won a command-level award for the first time in three years.  I used my experiences to educate and expand what was possible for my subordinates—they carried us as a whole and made it possible to win that award.  I like to think that my experience is my strength as a SNCO managing a section of NCOs, so I leverage it to the best of my ability to help them and the work center.  Imagine if I had a section filled with self-serving people—it would have truly been like the Hunger Games, where people would have simply been vying for the next opportunity to best each other with no teamwork to be had.  Innovation would have taken a backseat to people simply clamping onto the next big ticket volunteer opportunity.

You have a lot more control over your career than you might realize; be bold and step up to the challenges in your work center or use your strengths to pull others up!

Happy Father’s Day

Hero-Dad-On-Fathers-Day-With Father’s Day being right around the corner, I can’t help but reflect on some things my father taught me and things I hope to be able to pass on to my children. One of those vital lessons came to me around my 15th birthday. He told me, “You are a man now. What you do or don’t do is your choice, but you have to own the consequences of those choices.” This is a moment, I will never forget and one I revisit often although I certainly am not perfect and haven’t owned every consequence as I should have, but I do recognize this and strive to grow when I see it happen.

A deeper rooted theme in this message is one we face often throughout our lives and careers. We come to many forks in the road and our decisions can ultimately steer the directions of our families. We can choose to sacrifice time with our loved ones to chase money, notoriety, rank or a position to become somebody our families are proud of. The path where our end goal is become somebody important can lead us to sacrifice our values, kiss butt, or step on another to get closer to that goal. This could very well get you to that coveted title or position, but is it something you earned? Can you look yourself in the mirror and face yourself knowing the truth of what you did to get there?

The other option is to do what is right. To own your integrity. To solve problems that raise others up. To build bridges for those who will come behind you. To let your works speak for you and elevate those around you. You will eventually be so good that others can’t ignore your talent. They can’t deny your passion for others. Most importantly, they can’t question your values. This is the person I want to become. This is the person I would like my children to see. If it those great positions and titles follow, great. However whether they do or not, this is a choice with consequences I would want to own. To me there is no greater duty title than when my kids call me, “daddy”.

I encourage you to remember and honor your fathers or whoever that father figure was for you this weekend.

Daily Deliberation: 17 June 2017

I have noticed this throughout my career. Once I learn my job, I grow to complacency as I go through the motions of my day. I build controls into my day to prevent me from getting too comfortable. To do this, we could take on a challenge we know will push us harder. We can ask someone on the team to hold us accountable by looking over our work. Take a look at your daily routine and see if there are ways to stretch your abilities. If you don’t seek ways to progress, those on your team won’t either.

Daily Deliberation: 16 June 2017

So often we look at what could happen and let all of the “what ifs” control our actions. We become crippled with the fear of something that isn’t even real. Statistics stop us in our tracks. Numbers on paper or a trend from the past. Sometimes there is not even a historical basis for our fear; rather, the ramblings of some idea fairy. It is very important to plan and seek the smartest route for our time and resources. Once we come up with a solution that is in-line with our core values, pull the trigger and go for it. Learn to recognize actual dangers and escape from the “what if” fantasy world.

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