Commentary

September 20, 2013

Setting standards consistently, every day

Tags:
Master Sgt. David A. Kolcun
7th Maintenance Group

Senior Airman Angela Duff, 62nd Aerial Port Squadron, runs on a pathway along Heritage Hill April 19, 2010, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. as part of her daily routine. Cutting corners on daily routines and physical training requirements can set a poor example and lead subordinates to mirror bad habits.

DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas — We often talk about setting the standards for our Airmen to follow and holding them accountable when they fail to do so. In my opinion, the best way to teach adherence to the standards is through example.

This became painfully clear to me one summer morning at unit PT. Back in 2009, when I was a technical sergeant stationed at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., I was an avid runner; much faster than I am these days. Our squadron conducted physical training as a unit every Tuesday and Thursday morning. One Thursday morning, we were set to run a 5K, which we did almost every Thursday. However, this particular run would humble me and highlight how my actions affect those around me. We started the run and I’m out in front. Not long into the run I began to fatigue a bit, probably because I had run four miles the night before. I decided that I didn’t need to finish the whole run. Mistakenly, my mentality was that PT was for those who weren’t as active and after all, I ran yesterday. I was doing just fine on my own. So at the one mile marker, I turned around and headed back. Knowing it probably wasn’t the best choice, I quickly got over it and cheered on the rest of the unit as they returned, as I did every week.

Following the run, a very good friend of mine came up to me and explained that I shouldn’t have turned around early. I said, “Yeah I know but I just wasn’t feeling it today and besides, I ran yesterday.” I will never forget his response. He said “What you didn’t see was the three Airmen that turned around right after you did.” Wow. You ever have one of those epiphanies? One of those moments when something just clicks? In that instance, I realized that my actions were guiding their behavior.

They were following me and I had led them astray. They knew where the established turnaround was but they saw me, a respected NCO in their unit, turn around early so why shouldn’t they.

It was in that profound moment when I “got it” – everyone is watching me. When I’m in uniform off base, everyone is watching to see what I’m doing. If I am unprofessional, I am saying that the entire Air Force is unprofessional. If I’m cutting corners at work, my peers and subordinates will likely follow that pattern. When Airmen see me walk by a problem, I’m responsible when they do the same.

Timothy Bridges, former deputy assistant to the secretary of the Air Force said, “You are a [direct] reflection of your organization. And your people will emulate your behavior. If you’re cutting around the edges or taking shortcuts, they will do the same thing.” This was never truer than on that run that day. Now, is the Air Force going to crumble because a couple of us Airmen turned around early? No, probably not, but I use that experience as a reminder that I am an example to others. I must do the right thing even when I’m not “feeling it.” When I think no one is looking, I stick to the standards. When I am pressed for time or behind a deadline, I stick to the standards.

What my friend was telling me that morning was that others will follow you whether you’re right or wrong. That’s a huge responsibility but following the standards through personal example is a core competency in this Air Force. I draw on my experience and use it as a moral compass pointing me to do the hard right, instead of the easy wrong.

As a first sergeant, I know I live in a magnified fishbowl where everyone is scrutinizing my every move. But I don’t hold myself to the standards and do what’s right solely because of my diamond; I do it because there may be three Airmen behind me looking for direction.




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


 
 

 

Never underestimate your impact

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey — Every day I visit our great Airmen and every day I come across more than one that underestimates their impact to the mission. There’s the one-stripe maintainer, “just repaneling an aircraft,” for the next day’s flight, or the young personalist, “just issuing another identification card,” or the defender, “just guarding...
 
 

Challenge yourself: Never give up, never quit

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. — I once read that newly created cells in our bodies do one of two things: they either begin to decay or they become more vital. These cells choose their path based on what we demand of them. If we are sedentary, our brains signal our cells to decay; but...
 
 

From Ethiopia to America: An Airman’s story

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Mintesnot Woldetsadik was filled with wonderment as he took his first steps on American soil. He looked all around him in a confused daze until finally he settled his view on a blanketed-white landscape. Cupping his hand, he hunched over and scooped up the cold unfamiliar substance and brought...
 

 

Avoid ‘bird-dogging’

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. — Scams aimed at taking advantage of U.S. military members are nothing new; however, one such scam, “bird-dogging,” has re-emerged as a threat to service members’ financial security. Bird-dogging refers to the act of soliciting sales for a third party and is illegal both on and off base. One example occurs...
 
 

A true, true hero

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. — “Man, it is way too hot to be out here.” That was the only thought in my mind as I stood in the grass of the Mississippi Veterans Memorial Cemetery in full honor guard ceremonial uniform and holding my rifle, waiting for the family to arrive. Recently, I had...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nancy Falcon

From D-Day to today: Spiritual health remains key

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nancy Falcon Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Lance Hoggatt speaks with Joint Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training students at Vance Air Force Base, Okla., April 8, 2015 VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. —...
 




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=""> <s> <strike> <strong>