Commentary

February 21, 2014

Got PI?

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Lt. Col. Beth Kelley
Horine 4 CTCS commander

Horine--140126-F-HW403-082
I like pie. Who doesn’t like pie? I like all types of pie – home-made apple, fresh key lime, made-from scratch chocolate, and yes, even store-bought banana cream. I also like PI. Not the 3.1472xxxxx kind of mathematical pi, but PI. P I: Positive Initiative. In today’s fiscally-constrained, resource-reduced era, positive initiative offers a fresh approach to getting our Air Force Reserve mission done.

P = POSITIVE
First, a POSITIVE attitude is the crust holding PI together. Positivity makes anything possible. Positive people motive. They make you smile. They make you laugh. Better yet, positive leaders help you believe—in yourself, in your team, in your mission. Positivity helps you enjoy your piece of the pie, instead of complaining about not getting a piece.

Positivity also gives hope. Being positive forces you to believe YOU CAN, even if you lack ingredients or a solid recipe to guide you. Being part of a team with a positive attitude exponentially increases the likelihood of success.

Positivity is also contagious. A can-do attitude sets the example. It changes the whiners we deal with each day into less-grumpy people; it transforms naysayers into believers in your cause. Sometimes all it takes is a little suggestion, sharing your different idea, empathetic acknowledgement, a kind word.

For example, are your fit-to-fight scores getting you down? Do you complain about the unfairness of the testing, the lack of time you have after work to work out, your inability to lose weight? How about applying some PI – positive initiative – to the problem: provide suggestions and possible solutions to your chain of command to improve the testing process; propose an office PT program to encourage everyone to leave/go to the gym at the end of the day; volunteer to makeover your office snack bar with healthy options to reduce temptation. Applying PI to this basic challenge offers hope to your co-workers, sets a contagious ripple-effect across your workplace, allows others to share similar challenges and support each other…and at the end of the day – makes your goals to improve your PT scores possible.

On the other hand, if you start off with a negative attitude, a sour comment, a stale “this-is-how-its-always-been-done” approach, ideas fall flat and teams splinter – much like when a pie flips over, it falls flat and the ingredients splatter everywhere. If you start from scratch with a positive attitude, fresh ideas come to light, are welcomed, considered, and often improved upon.

I = INITIATIVE
When prepared properly, those fresh ideas combine to bring INITIATVE. Initiative comprises the key ingredients of PI. A positive approach to a problem enables those ideas to flow—empowers open-mindedness. A group who is open-minded can innovate.

Create. Overcome. Achieve. New ideas generate creative solutions to often daunting challenges.

For example, say your unit’s metrics are in the toilet. Instead of implementing dire consequences for those who don’t complete their tasks, bring together a group of the “repeat offenders” and inspire them to come up with a solution. Task them with finding a better way to accomplish requirements. Enable implementation of their ideas and provide encouragement for them to follow-through. Believe in them. Then reward those who succeed and recognize those who make it happen. I promise you, through empowerment, your unit metrics will dramatically improve.

I call the I in PI the “MacGyver factor.” If you believe there is a way to make something happen, it will happen. If you think creatively, look outside-of-the-box and embrace change, while staying positive the entire time, you can turn jerry-rigged stop gaps into viable, original solutions. You can use the free resources you have—the ideas of Airmen, and maybe a bit of duct tape and elbow grease—to build a squadron ready room, achieve a 100 percent on-time EPR rate, employ new tactics, techniques and procedures in combat, improve unit morale, and even recruit more Airmen! If you believe it’s possible, you’re positive attitude will inspire a team to make it possible.

And really, what’s the worst thing that COULD happen? Your pie burns to a crisp and you get the opportunity to start from scratch. Yet, if you’ve employed PI, I bet you’re smiling and enjoying the aromas, the satisfaction of trying, the entire time.
You’re learning through mistakes, improving issues for those who you work with, paving the way for the Airmen who will replace you. You’re setting a positive example and inspiring initiative in others.

No matter how you slice it, PI creates success. And everyone likes success—it tastes just as good, if not better, than pie! And who doesn’t like pie?




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