Commentary

January 25, 2013

“Red”

Tags:
1st Lt. David Liapis
39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Though red pens are often seen as leaving negative remarks on one’s career, they are in fact used as tools to help better Airmen. From fixing aircraft to correcting papers, each stroke makes a mark in pursuing excellence.

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey — You could say that my Air Force career has revolved around a red pen since I joined in July of 2004.

I grew up in the world of aircraft maintenance as an Electrical and Environmental Systems specialist, always with a “red” stuck in my sleeve in order to “break” an aircraft with a crimson “X.” Now, as a public affairs officer, I have an “editing tool” of the same color handy to mark up articles and photo captions as necessary.

You might be wondering where I am going with this, and how a summary of my career should matter to you.

Well, the point is not about what I did, or do, or how I went from turning wrenches in the bitter cold on an Alaskan flightline to writing this commentary in an office in Turkey. It’s about the process of breaking something down in order to build it up to be better and stronger than before.

When a pilot, crew chief or other maintenance person notes a critical discrepancy on an aircraft, they will mark a red “X” on an aircraft’s form. The jet is then considered broken — non-flyable. The point is to alert the maintenance crews to a problem, but it doesn’t stop there. They don’t just shrug their shoulders and walk away, leaving the jet to rust. Rather, they take the necessary actions to correct the deficiency, “clear the X” and get the plane in the air again so it can accomplish the mission.

When one of my photojournalists brings a product to me for editing, I don’t simply “bleed” all over it and let them publish it as is. The intent of the markings, verbal feedback and subsequent edits are to ensure you, the reader, receive an error-free, informative product.

It’s no different with us and the various forms of feedback we receive. Whether it’s an official feedback, a performance report or even a form of non-judicial punishment, it about the process of breaking down and building back up — or at least it should be.

From the outset of our military careers, various aspects of our lives, habits, language, respect for authority, etc. — were targeted by our Military Training Instructors and/or flight commanders, and we were broken where needed so they could build us back up better, stronger and ready to execute the mission. However, that focus is sometimes lost and the value of those lessons can be forgotten as time-in-service points accrue and initial-issue uniforms fade to grey.

If you have received feedback that had more negatives than positives or a performance report you felt should have required all the fingers on one hand to count the score but didn’t, realize that this “breaking down” is meant to build you up. How can we expect to improve without first being shown what our weaknesses are?

Maybe you’ve messed up big time, and you’re in dreadful suspense waiting to find out which letter of the alphabet is going to follow the “LO.” Or, maybe you’re the supervisor writing that paperwork. Don’t forget it’s about rehabilitation, not hammering someone just for the sake of punishing or giving them what you think they deserve.

What we all deserve is the opportunity to be resilient and bounce back from the valleys we sometimes find ourselves in. From Airmen basic to four-star generals, we all make mistakes. The difference between an Airman basic who makes chief or a butter bar who makes general and those who find themselves being escorted out the gate as a “mister” or “misses” is often times how they deal with being broken down. Are they willing and patient enough to be built back up? Are you?

As for me, I will continue to watch as my Air Force life orbits around a red pen and do what I can to learn from my mistakes, receive negative feedback graciously and strive to be stronger, better and more prepared to accomplish the mission. What are you going to do?




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
square

Luke Lightning strikes at Nellis

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Thomas Spangler An F-35A Lightning II assigned to the 61st Fighter Squadron, Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., taxis to the runway for a training exercise at Nellis AFB, Nev., April 15. Maintaine...
 
 

CSAF discusses Air Force’s need to reset

WASHINGTON — The Air Force Association hosted its monthly Air Force breakfast with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III in Arlington, Virginia April 2. During his speech, Welsh addressed many topics and issues in today’s Air Force, including hitting the “reset button.” “For the last couple of years what we have...
 
 

Ten seconds later, that picture still exists

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — There is a conversation many teenagers have had with their parents or friends, me included. “Hey, don’t worry! It’ll be fine; all of the pictures I send disappear after 10 seconds. That’s how Snapchat works.” While many teenagers only share their silly, cross-eyed, quadruple-chinned faces with friends, there are a...
 

 

Becoming stronger through failure

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. — Failing the Air Force physical training test was my greatest fear since joining the military. It is embarrassing to admit recently that fear came to fruition, but what I have learned through that failure has become one of my greatest strengths. After failing, I definitely felt like a weak...
 
 

‘Eye’ see you

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mikaley Towle Lisa Winkelman, 99th Aerospace Medicine Squadron optometry technician, simulates taking a vision test at the Optometry Clinic on Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., April 15. Getting an eye exam is important to ensure eye vision and pressure is good and in the normal range. For...
 
 

Nellis AFB goes green for Earth Day

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — The first Earth Day occurred April 22, 1970, and was introduced by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. More than 20 million people and thousands of local schools and communities participated in the first Earth Day in the U.S. Across the Air Force today, installations are taking aggressive strides...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin