Commentary

September 20, 2012

Disciplined Airmen lead to disciplined life

Commentary by Lt. Col. Jim Upchurch
756th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — As I prepared to prepare (procrastination!) for this commentary, I remember beginning the all important first step — brainstorming! I bounced from topic to topic, everything from the recent F-35 excitement to the roles supervisors have in today’s Air Force to what was on sale at the Base Exchange.

I finally decided on a very simple yet important topic: discipline. I’m not talking about punishment but discipline from an individual and self-perspective. So, what do I mean by that?

First, let’s look at the definition. Of course there are all the negative connotations, but the definition that directly relates here is “behavior in accord with the rules of conduct; behavior and order maintained by training and control.”

Simply put, having the self-control to follow the rules. As we know, the profession of arms has rules of conduct, training, and control measures to guide and direct behavior and performance for mission success. Without them chaos would reign — and it sometimes still does!

Armed with the definition, now recall the headline above that caught your eye and jolted you into reading this fascinating article.

What is meant by disciplined Airmen? A disciplined Airman demonstrates self-control and self-discipline while on duty as well as off duty. Self-control is the basis for good decision making and good judgment. In addition, Air Force Instructions, technical orders, higher headquarters and local policy, etc., provide the direction and guidance to meet mission requirements. Performing “by the book” each and every day is a disciplined approach. Deviating from directives, of course, is not.

The second half of the headline, disciplined life, expands the idea of self-discipline into every aspect of our lives. Airmen share common values — integrity, excellence in all we do and service before self. These values are the rules to guide behavior and conduct in order to achieve success.

The mission demands a disciplined approach to our core values each and every day. In addition, Airmen must achieve balance in their lives to be effective in our profession — physical, emotional, mental and spiritual balance. Balancing priorities and responsibilities is more an art than a science. Having the self-discipline to put extra time in at work or to attend a child’s soccer game is vital to the mission. A disciplined life is about building and maintaining character — doing what is right.

So why is this important? Why does discipline play such an important role in our profession? I ask you to think of another career where so much responsibility rests on the shoulders of men and women barely out of high school or college. Our Airmen are entrusted with multimillion dollar aircraft and equipment. No other institution in the world does this … but we do. Discipline makes it possible.

The mission is only successful when Airmen have the self-discipline to do what’s right, on and off duty. AFI 1-1 reminds us “no mission can succeed without the discipline and resilience produced by strict compliance with rules.”

This is a way of life — 24/7. Are you a disciplined Airman?




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(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Adam Grant)

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