Commentary

September 20, 2013

There’s value in the struggle

Lt. Col. MATT LILJENSTOLPE
56th Training Squadron

I was watching a video of a motivational speech a few weeks ago and the speaker kept saying the same phrase over and over, “There’s value in the struggle.” In the weeks that have followed, I have found myself echoing those words many times.

As an Air Force and a Luke Air Force Base community, we find ourselves in challenging times. The Air Force is in the midst of a cultural change, and Luke will soon bed down a new F-35 mission while at the same time we will transfer half of the wing’s F-16 mission to Holloman. The combined unit inspection is fast approaching, and all of that on top of our everyday mission, at its best, is challenging.

I have no doubt that both Luke AFB and the Air Force will get through all of these challenges with flying colors, stronger than before and better equipped and trained to answer our nation’s call.

However, I also have no doubt that along the way we will stumble, we will at times fail and most assuredly we will make mistakes. In short, we will struggle. If it is truly our collective goal to achieve excellence in all that we do, the worst thing we can do is to shy away from the struggle. For it is only through our struggles that we eventually discover the pathways to our success. That is to say, there’s value in the struggle.

As we move forward into the next few months and next few years, let’s focus on how we will discover our problems instead of worrying about whether we’ll make a mistake along the way. When problems are discovered, let’s strive for cooperation and agreement on the solution, instead of focusing on where to assign blame. There’s value in the struggle.

Leaders, be receptive to subordinates who ask the hard questions. Keep an open mind about what they think and see. You may find that your own insight isn’t always as keen as you think. There’s value in the struggle.

Airmen, have the courage to walk into the boss’s office with your mistakes as well as your solutions. It takes guts to do both. You are the expert. You are the best trained and equipped Air Force in the world. Therefore, you are the only one that can fix the problems you uncover. There’s value in the struggle.

Discovering problems in your squadron or inefficiency in your processes is a good thing. It shows that you are paying attention and that you care. It’s truly the first step to becoming a better team. There’s value in the struggle.

In conclusion, while prepping to write this article I came across this quote from American patriot and famed Revolutionary War author Thomas Paine, “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly … I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow.” To paraphrase, I think all he was trying to say is there’s value in the struggle.




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