Commentary

September 27, 2013

Setting the standard consistently, every day

Tags:
Master Sgt. David A. Kolcun
Dyess AFB, Texas

Senior Airman Angela Duff, 62nd Aerial Port Squadron, runs on a pathway along Heritage Hill April 19, 2010, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. as part of her daily routine. Cutting corners on daily routines and physical training requirements can set a poor example and lead subordinates to mirror bad habits.

We often talk about setting the standards for our Airmen to follow and holding them accountable when they fail to do so. In my opinion, the best way to teach adherence to the standards is through example.

This became painfully clear to me one summer morning at unit PT. Back in 2009, when I was a technical sergeant stationed at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., I was an avid runner; much faster than I am these days. Our squadron conducted physical training as a unit every Tuesday and Thursday morning. One Thursday morning, we were set to run a 5K, which we did almost every Thursday. However, this particular run would humble me and highlight how my actions affect those around me. We started the run and I’m out in front.

Not long into the run I began to fatigue a bit, probably because I had run four miles the night before. I decided that I didn’t need to finish the whole run. Mistakenly, my mentality was that PT was for those who weren’t as active and after all, I ran yesterday. I was doing just fine on my own. So at the one mile marker, I turned around and headed back. Knowing it probably wasn’t the best choice, I quickly got over it and cheered on the rest of the unit as they returned, as I did every week.

Following the run, a very good friend of mine came up to me and explained that I shouldn’t have turned around early. I said, “Yeah I know but I just wasn’t feeling it today and besides, I ran yesterday.” I will never forget his response. He said “What you didn’t see was the three Airmen that turned around right after you did.” Wow. You ever have one of those epiphanies? One of those moments when something just clicks? In that instance, I realized that my actions were guiding their behavior. They were following me and I had led them astray. They knew where the established turnaround was but they saw me, a respected NCO in their unit, turn around early so why shouldn’t they.

It was in that profound moment when I “got it” – everyone is watching me. When I’m in uniform off base, everyone is watching to see what I’m doing. If I am unprofessional, I am saying that the entire Air Force is unprofessional. If I’m cutting corners at work, my peers and subordinates will likely follow that pattern. When Airmen see me walk by a problem, I’m responsible when they do the same.

Timothy Bridges, former deputy assistant to the secretary of the Air Force said, “You are a [direct] reflection of your organization. And your people will emulate your behavior. If you’re cutting around the edges or taking shortcuts, they will do the same thing.” This was never truer than on that run that day.
Now, is the Air Force going to crumble because a couple of us Airmen turned around early? No, probably not, but I use that experience as a reminder that I am an example to others. I must do the right thing even when I’m not “feeling it.” When I think no one is looking, I stick to the standards. When I am pressed for time or behind a deadline, I stick to the standards.

What my friend was telling me that morning was that others will follow you whether you’re right or wrong. That’s a huge responsibility but following the standards through personal example is a core competency in this Air Force. I draw on my experience and use it as a moral compass pointing me to do the hard right, instead of the easy wrong.

As a first sergeant, I know I live in a magnified fishbowl where everyone is scrutinizing my every move. But I don’t hold myself to the standards and do what’s right solely because of my diamond; I do it because there may be three Airmen behind me looking for direction.




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


 
 

 
Air Force photograph

Rosie the Riveter and me

Air Force photograph Staff Sgt. Alexandra M. Longfellow displays a tattoo of “Rosie the Riveter” to showcase how she became who she is today. The history of Rosie shows that with dedication and effort, anyone can do anythin...
 
 

Celebrating the work that social workers do

March is nationally recognized as Social Work Month. According to the National Association of Social Workers, since the first social work class was offered in the summer of 1898 at Columbia University, social workers have led the way developing private and charitable organizations to serve people in need. And now, social workers continue to address...
 
 

Naming the ‘unnamed conspirator’

Have you ever questioned the verdict of a sexual assault trial and wondered what evidence was presented before the court? Did you find the story, or facts as related by the media, believable or unbelievable? According to attorney Anne Munch, societal attitudes play a major role in how we judge and perceive victims of sexual...
 

 

Growth Opportunities for the Week

Through our character – an opportunity to reflect on important issues in our community – Contemplation is a lost art. Most people can manage some type of prayer but contemplation is much harder to do.  Medieval teacher Hugh of St. Victor says that “what prayer asks, contemplation finds.” Contemplation then is marveling at the wonder,...
 
 

Cybercrime: How it affects you

Cybercrime is the fastest growing and most dynamic area of crime. Ever-increasing reliance on cyber technology is allowing criminals to operate with virtual impunity across a range of criminal activities and jurisdictions. Although the types of crimes are not necessarily new (theft, fraud, extortion, drug proliferation and sex-based exploitation), the technology provides criminals an unpreceden...
 
 

Gaining Altitude – Growth Opportunities for the Week

Through our character – an opportunity to reflect on important issues in our community – Don’t you wish you had a few moments of peace and quiet? Sounds nice but that may not be reality. The weekly journal Nature recently reported, “Given the choice, many people would rather give themselves mild electric shocks than sit...
 




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=""> <strike> <strong>