Commentary

July 12, 2012

Standards and Accountability – Who are you going to be today?

Commentary by Master Sgt. Alexander Gordon
9th Physiological Support Squadron

How you answer this one simple question can determine the course of your entire day. You see, who we are is not determined by what happens to us but rather in how we respond to what has happened. Therefore, we have the ability to determine who we are going to be every day.

We are all accountable for our actions; he/she told me to, that is how it is done here, and I didn’t know are not acceptable reasons for action. These are excuses to try and avoid accountability when things don’t go right. Be present and conscious in your decision making. Think about what could possibly be the outcome; both good and bad then make your decision before acting. Listen to yourself, if your inner voice is asking if what you are about to do is a good idea, then the answer is probably no. The right decision isn’t always going to be easy or popular.

A couple of years ago I overheard an Airman complaining their boss gave them a letter of counseling for being late to work. I asked him if he was late and he said “yeah but only a little bit.” I asked if this was the first time he had been late and he said “no it happened a few times before.” So you knew the standard, you repeatedly broke the standard and forced somebody to do something they do not like doing; who is actually in the wrong? Reluctantly the Airman realized he was at fault and the supervisor was doing their duty upholding standards. This was the first time anyone had helped him see how his actions played a role in what happened rather than just telling him he was in trouble and better
straighten up.

In 1995 General Ronald R. Fogleman, then Air Force Chief of Staff, said “The bottom line is simple: Air Force standards must be uniformly known, consistently applied and non-selectively enforced. Accountability is critically important to good order and discipline of the force. And, failure to ensure accountability will destroy the trust of the American public. The very people living under the Constitution we swore to support and defend, and who look to us the members of their nation’s Air Force, to embrace and live by the standards that are higher than those in the society we serve.”

As Airmen it is our job to become proficient not only in our Air Force Specialty Code but to learn the standards and how to adhere to them. Standards are derived from Air Force Instructions which are actually direct orders. When we raised our right hand and took the oath we swore to uphold orders and regulations so don’t be shocked or angry if someone holds you accountable for not adhering to standards. We are in the Profession of Arms and we need to be held to a higher standard than the general public. They are looking to us for protection and they need to know we can be counted on to do the right thing all the time every time. Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in all we do are not just buzz words they are a way of life that should be embodied by all Airmen.

So, are you going to take the easy way out whenever it is presented or are you going to be consciously making decisions guided by our Core Values? Who are you going to be today?




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(U.S. Air Force Illustration by Airman 1st Class Cheyenne Morigeau)

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