Commentary

June 21, 2013

Filling squares

Senior Master Sgt. Vincent Miller
Barksdale AFB, La.

As Airmen, we are more than familiar with the need to fill the proverbial squares as we strive to progress in our military career.

To be competitive for awards and promotions, we must commit ourselves to goals such as education, passing the fitness exam, and community service. It is through completion of these expectations and requirements that we become better leaders, managers and Airmen. However, somewhere along the way, we fail to internalize the importance of why we fill these squares.

In reality, the squares are designed to make us better and provide a separation between the willing and unwilling – the committed and uncommitted. The squares help identify Airmen who are motivated and willing to go the extra mile to better themselves, their team, and the Air Force. It is this drive towards self-improvement that separates one from the masses and establishes his or her true identity.

One square that requires a great deal of commitment is the pursuit of education. As we continually strive to become that “whole person,” we must challenge ourselves intellectually and work toward attaining a certification; associate, bachelor’s, or even a master’s degree. Attending school is not easy and takes sacrifice. It means spending your time writing a research paper, while everyone else is enjoying the weekend. It means taking your textbook on the flightline and studying every chance you get. It means being the security forces Airman I saw reading a biology book while eating breakfast in the dining facility.

At this moment some of you are saying there is no time to attend school; high operations tempo, 40-hour work week, and spending time with family are a few reasons†that prevent you from taking classes. Additionally, some of you may feel we should be evaluated solely on work performance.

Honestly, these excuses are hindering you from progressing and improving yourself. If you continue to hide behind them, like I once did, you will never take yourself to the next level.

It took a long time to realize that fear and toxic excuses prevented me from seeking an education. Constant mentorship and a few one-way “conversations” from a chief†master sergeant†propelled me down the road of education.

Dedicating yourself to filling the squares is a decision only you can make. By filling them you demonstrate the willingness of constant self-improvement and unwavering commitment, which directly benefits you, your team, and the Air Force. Filling the squares also establishes separation from your peers and it is through this separation that you are most likely to fulfill your career aspirations and goals.

The choice is yours and yours alone. Be willing to accept the consequences. Don’t say, “He/she only got Senior Airman below-the-zone because he went to school.” Rather, you must say, “I lost because I chose not to go to school. I chose not to fill the squares.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

‘We’re all in this together’ — A senior NCO’s five constants

Service in the Air Force today means different things for different people. Depending on your unique circumstances, such as family dynamics, job or upbringing, how you navigate through those dynamics can have a significant impact on your time serving and significantly help you prepare for the day you no longer will wear the uniform, whether...
 
 

Gaining Altitude — Growth Opportunities for the Week

Through our character – an opportunity to reflect on important issues in our community Facebook and Twitter allow us to communicate whatever we want, whenever we want.  We tend to respond to any issue that frustrates us and tugs at our emotional heart strings. One thing that our posts and blogs typically lack is civility....
 
 

Separated but not alone

As the dawn broke out over the mountains, I woke up to the sun peeping through my window. Once I got up I went straight to the kitchen to make my family breakfast yet in the back of my mind, all I could think about was, “how am I going to manage taking care of...
 

 

Gaining Altitude — Growth Opportunities for the Week

Through our character – an opportunity to reflect on important issues in our community Have you ever disagreed with anyone?  It is easy for the disagreement to spire out of control when emotions get involved.  Resolving difference is never easy (if it was, they wouldn’t be disagreements!). But there are some things we can do....
 
 

Defining moments

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz.–The word character has many meanings according to the dictionary…a feature or trait characteristic, moral or ethical quality, qualities of honesty, courage, and to no surprise….integrity. Since it has so many different meanings, it can be made to adapt to so many different types of people. Courage is not the absence...
 
 

How Many Pieces of Military Flair are on Your Social Media?

Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho–Being a member of the United States Air Force should without question be a source of pride. The service you render to the United States is a vital one and retired Air Force members and family members take an equal pride in the service they have and do render to...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>