I am not sure where I heard this, but we shouldn’t strive to be better than others. We will work ourselves into the ground and chase multiple targets as we see them excel in some new area. Instead, we should strive to be better than we were yesterday. Improve in one area of your life today by just 1% and you will be better. Keep doing this and you will be the person everyone is striving to become.
Lately, I have begun reading the books written by Jocko Willink and his views are so simple and yet no one does them. In his book Extreme Ownership he talks about owning the things in our control. If I mess up, own it and move forward. We all make mistakes, our team sees them and it does no good to hide from them. Admit the mistake and own the consequences. Then discuss with your team how you are going to solve it.
It is amazing how many times I have said this, but have failed. I allow others to pollute my mind or temperament by listening to their nonsensical ideas. When this does happen I try to stop and ask myself why I even care in the first place. If they are sharing an opinion about something that will not impact me 5 minutes after I walk away, I walk away or simply listen. If it is something that can’t be ignored, I do my best to get to the root of the issue and keep out all of the extra garbage people try to dump in there.
So many times in my life I sat around waiting to find the motivation to act. Most of the time, it never showed up for me. It was up to me to take the action to get moving. Once I did, my motivation appeared. Stop worrying about how you are going to accomplish everything before you even get moving. Take the first step and then the next one will naturally follow.
Enter basic military training with some college, CAP or JROTC under your belt and A1C is sewn on for Graduation Day. Make SrA Below-the-Zone and sew on before the cutoff date and you’re promotion eligible for Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force.
There’s a long-standing debate of whether someone is “ready” for the next rank, regardless of how soon or fast they are selected to advance.
I’ll quote CMSAF Wright when he said: “Leadership isn’t about rank or position. It’s not about having all the answers. It’s about getting into the trenches and taking care of your people… Never discount what you bring to your team.”
Yes, there will be those a bit “salty” for what seems to be a faster-than-light promotion system, but let’s think of just some of the factors that got us here.
The Air Force NEEDS more NCOs. This isn’t a want… It’s a nessesity. 15 years of combat operations will do that to any military. Our front-line ranks need replenishing.
So what now? Do we scoff at the hyper-green soon-to-be SSgt? Nope. Not even a little bit. That’s just counterproductive towards our team goal. We can’t fly, fight or win anything if we are at odds with our own people.
What we NEED are mentors. And we needed them yesterday. If you are a mentor to someone who is junior to you and are downloading every bit of professional development that you’ve received into your Airman, you’re doing your part. The only way that we’re going to see a stronger, faster, and more committed force is when we act like a team. Again, the Air Force is going to promote people based on the system we have. And for those selected with minimal time in service… moving up from JV to Varsity is going to have it’s own challenges that they will have to deal with and grow from. The question is: Are you doing your part to make the team…work?
My post this past Monday touched on this. Our title is not what defines us, it is our action. I have been fortunate enough to have been placed in situations where I was in charge even though I did not out rank my teammates. Trying to “flex” my title would have resulted in me getting stuffed in a locker or something. Instead I had to show I was willing to roll up my sleeves and do the job too. Setting an example through action showed the team I was not in it for the positional perks, but for the betterment of the team.
Listening is one of the things I am working on as a leader. I have the tendency to offer advice when someone brings me an issue. This is typically what they want, but I find I am not listening for the true root of the issue and only solving a surface symptom and not the actual problem. Actually, I have learned that my advice rarely solves another’s true problem. What helps is when I listen and ask them questions that help us both understand the problem better. By the time we get to the root of the issue, they already know what to do.
I am so fortunate to have my father in my life. He told me from an early age that there will always be someone better than me. On the surface this sounds very cruel; however, in reality it means that if I want to get into the top tier, I have to earn my way. Not only do I have to earn my way there, I have to ensure I am earning my keep in that role. We constantly have to learn and push ourselves. The moment we stop is the moment another takes our place.
76 years ago a giant was awoken as the Empire of Japan attacked our land. From that moment on, our military might has been known and revered throughout the globe. Our ability to come together as a nation was also witnessed on this day. The leaders who shaped our service were forged in this moment. As we take time to remember those who were there, also take time to think about what legacy we are leaving for those to follow 76 years from today.