When I was a senior in high school, my father served as the Hill Air Force Base commander.
Understandably, the unwelcomed public scrutiny of a teenagerâ€™s life that occurs when your father is the base commander naturally created tension at times. As my father approaches his 80th birthday though, my reflection on that period provides a greater appreciation for his service to both those entrusted to his command and his family. Unknown to me at the time, he consistently demonstrated one of the most important elements of leadership â€” balance.
I didnâ€™t realize, much less appreciate, the demands on my fatherâ€™s time during this period and the enduring life lesson he was displaying not only to his daughter but to the men and women under his command. Despite the significant time demands placed on someone serving in such a position, he always made time for me. Whether it was spending time with me doing homework at the dining room table, going for evening runs, or accompanying me to church, he committed one of the most important things a father can to a childâ€™s development â€” his time.
In fact, I cannot remember a single instance when my father missed one of my high school volleyball games, track meets or softball games during this period even though I may not have appreciated it at the time. More than 30 years later, he still has the ability to recount play-by-play my athletic highlights with all the excitement of an ESPN sportscaster. The same is true for my four sisters and brother. I now know there is no greater motivation than a fatherâ€™s pride. His love was unconditional.
Although I cannot say conclusively, I suspect that many of the men and women who served with my father took notice of the example he set in his personal life and have similar family memories due, at least in part, to my fatherâ€™s leadership. As leaders, we have a responsibility to encourage our people to find that proper balance in their lives. With the current operations tempo, achieving that objective is more difficult than ever but no less than important. As Fatherâ€™s Day approaches, it provides an excellent opportunity for us all to reflect on what matters most and ensure we are achieving the proper balance. I salute my father for his commitment to this leadership principle.