Commentary

March 29, 2013

Making challenges into opportunities, hard work

We all ask, “What’s the secret to success?”

I wish I knew the answer, although my standard reply is “hard work.” Hard work may sound simplistic, but trust me, it stems from a lifetime of trying harder.

You see, I have attention deficit disorder. This article is not about ADD, rather how I overcame my challenges and how it has paved a way to some measure of success.

Staying focused on a task is challenging. Because of this I use visual aids as reminders. I figure if using these tools help me, hopefully they’ll help someone else too.

For example, I’ll send appointments via a calendar reminder instead of sending it in an email. I’ve created a board that identifies the 104 enlisted personnel in my squadron which includes their position number, EPR due date, AEF band, and the quarter they’ll be eligible for below-the-zone promotion.

I want this tool to help my four flight chiefs too. I emailed a picture to them so they can have it handy when they need to move technicians from one clinic to another, ensure they’re in the right position number, quickly identify who is in the band when taskings come up, and forecast BTZ submissions so they can groom their Airmen along the way.

I’ve been told I’m bossy, but to me, it’s a tool I need to remain focused and in turn help someone else stay focused because after all, it’s about making life easier for each other.

I could go on about the tools I use, but there’s something else just as important to keep me on track – reading.

In order for me to understand something, I need clear direction and a clear expectation. I find it very important to be able to read something and understand what the author is telling me. Reading a bullet is a perfect example. Your career is in the hands of the reader. If the person writing the bullet isn’t painting a clear picture to the reader, then it is unlikely you will be selected for awards, special duty or even promotion. This is why I enjoy teaching bullet writing classes and explaining the importance of clearly relaying information to your reader. Reading a clear expectation and more importantly understanding that expectation is imperative for me to stay focused.

There’s something else I believe helps me stay focused; something I call the “What’s next” factor. It doesn’t matter if I’m at home or at work, once I finish something I ask myself what’s next. I like having something to focus on, something with a timeline. It could be teaching the next bullet writing class, making another colorful spreadsheet, cleaning out the garage or a million other options. Having short-term goals gives me something to shoot for and complete. It keeps me motivated.

The only secret to success is working hard. Finding ways to overcome challenges, teaching others along the way and always looking for the next project has worked for me.

ADD is not something I struggle with; it’s something that drives me. I might have to work extra hard at everything I do, and I don’t always excel, but I try hard, and that’s all I can offer. As I think about wrapping this up the next logical thought that pops in my head is, what’s next?




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