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.


 
 

 

First enlisted Airmen awarded Weapons School graduate patches

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — History was made June 27, when five graduates of the U.S. Air Force Weapons School’s Joint Terminal Attack Controller Weapons Instructor Course became the first enlisted Airmen in the school’s 66-year mission to be awarded the Weapons School’s graduate patch. These graduates will now be recognized as subject matter...
 
 

Staying safe during flash flood season

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — July is here with high temperatures and a high chance of flash flooding. The months with the highest probability for thunderstorms are July through September. Las Vegas’ annual rainfall is approximately 4.13 inches, and while this may not seem like a lot of rain, the elevation of Las Vegas...
 
 

Conquer fear, live your dream

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. — Are you living the dream? Do you wake up with energy each morning or do you need an energy drink to get you going? If you constantly hit the snooze button on your alarm, wake with no energy and low self-esteem, need lots of coffee, soda or energy drinks...
 

 
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joshua Kleinholz

Weapons School honors newest graduates

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joshua Kleinholz Gen. Lori Robinson, Pacific Air Forces commander, delivers the keynote speech during the U.S. Air Force Weapons School Class 15-A graduation ceremony in Las Vegas, Nev., Ju...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Y. Barclay

Hunters save lives through RPA Human Performance Team

U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Y. Barclay Considering the demands facing the remotely piloted aircraft enterprise, Team Creech has formed their own human performance team to meet the needs of those suppo...
 
 
Courtesy photo

Employment Assistance Program aids military members’ transition

Courtesy photo Members of the Nellis community attend a job fair as part of the Airman and Family Readiness Center’s Employment Assistance Program at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., April 23. The Employment Assistance Program he...
 




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>