Commentary

January 22, 2016
 

Make a difference

Chief Master Sgt. Mike Heath
Vandenberg AFB, Calif.

Will you make a difference in someone else’s life today? We have all heard someone say, “Take care of your people and their families.” Have you ever stopped to think why we hear this so often?
As Airmen, our number one responsibility is to accomplish the mission. However, without smart, dedicated, hard-working people and the unconditional support of their families, the mission would not get accomplished. This philosophy is not new. In fact, it’s been a fundamental concept in our Air Force culture for many years, but are we truly putting forth our best effort on a daily basis to be involved in the lives of our people and understand the needs of our Airmen?
Genuinely caring for your Airmen is essential and helpful when providing honest and realistic performance appraisals. Mentor those whose development with which you are charged. Make sure they can do your job someday. Teach them from your experiences — the good, the bad and the ugly.
Share your successes and failures and tell them how you handled them. Make it a teaching moment so you can make them better leaders.
Taking the time to develop Airmen is not an easy task and it’s not something that can be done only online or by computer based training. It takes human interaction, patience, effort, and an ability to evolve. Enable and motivate people to accomplish the mission. Give a sense of accomplishment and make sure they are recognized for it. If done properly, no doubt you will instill confidence in others and ensure the success of tomorrow’s leaders.
It’s not about you. It’s about other people. When you take care of your people, help them accomplish their goals and live up to their potential, and great things will happen. Not only will the mission get accomplished, but innovation and excellence will ensue. These things can happen when you realize it’s not about you and you take care of your people. You and I share a common blessing in that we are members of the finest country in the world. I have faith that you will endeavor to make our country even better in the future by making a difference in someone else’s life today.
I was entrusted with the incredible responsibility to be a supervisor more than 25 years ago. I started something that first morning as I prepared for work. As I was so proudly putting on my Air Force uniform I looked into the mirror and said, “Will you make a difference in someone else’s life today?” I have asked that question every day since. When I get home at the end of my duty day, as I take off my uniform, I look in that mirror again and ask myself, “Did you make a difference in someone else’s life today?” Sometimes the answer is no, so what do I do the next day? Try harder!
So I ask you; will you make a difference in someone else’s life today? If you do, it could inspire an Airman for a lifetime.




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