November 30, 2018

Take pride in being an Airman

Senior Master Sgt. Edith Smith
Travis AFB, Calif.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with great Airmen during my career, and nothing makes me more proud than to work beside them.

Although I’ve moved to different places and met different people, the ones I remember were the Airmen who took pride in themselves and their work. They gave their best no matter how minute or mundane a task and that spoke more to me about them than anything they could have said. They took pride in what they did, but what is pride?

To me, pride is actions. If you’re proud about something you care for it and you try to make it better. If your truck is your pride and joy, you take care of it. If you’re proud of your child, you boast about him or her.

A few years back, I was lucky enough to go through the Marine Academy Advanced Course, our Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Academy equivalent, and I learned to view what we do and how we serve with different eyes.

At one point during the course, I was posed a simple question: “What do you do?” Without hesitation I started to answer that question by telling the instructor what my job was, with as little jargon as I could.

After finishing my explanation and feeling pretty satisfied, the instructor looked at me and the rest of the class and said, “You know, that’s the difference between our two services. I ask you what you do and you answer with what your job is. If you ask any Marine what they do, the answer is always the same: ‘I’m a Marine.’”

The mere pride of saying “I’m a Marine” rang with fulfillment, self-respect and honor. From then on, I’ve had a different attitude about serving because it’s not just about what our jobs are, it’s how you present yourself and truly strive to excel that truly matters. As much as I would love to see a future where we can just call ourselves Airmen when we’re posed this very same question, there is nothing wrong with taking pride in what you do.

We all had different reasons as to why we joined and maybe it wasn’t to wash dishes or hand out towels, but that doesn’t mean that they are mediocre jobs and require mediocre attention.

Excellence in all you do–it’s what the Air Force asks of us and it’s what some forget. Too many times, I have seen people get caught up in thinking that their current job is one they did not want to do, which often leads to them lacking the desire to excel. Some easily forget that we volunteered to serve and the core values must always be placed ahead of our own desires. The Air Force requires excellence in all you do, not just the things you want to do.

It may be easy for some to blame “them” or “other people” when they don’t get something they feel they deserved, but you have to understand that sometimes, while the door of opportunity may appear to be closed, if your solution and value is real, it will open once you’ve effectively displayed your value first. You have to earn what you get and it all starts with being the best no matter what you do.

Start being proud to be an Airman because it’s what you are and it’s what you do.

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