LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, AZ — Throughout our Air Force careers, we have all received extensive training covering the Air Force core values — integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do. We talk about them on a daily basis in one capacity or another using them as buzz words to drive our point home or steer a wayward Airmen back within standards. They are called our core values for a reason. They are meant to be the heart and soul of our professionalism.
However, too often I hear one of our core values faltering and going unchecked. Not only does it go unchecked, the effects ripple out to those around the original offender. It is not one of the “big three,” rather a tenet of a core value, one of the main underlying principles which the value is built upon — faith in the system.
Faith in the system is a tenet of service before self. While service before self tells us that our professional duties take precedence over personal desires, faith in the system further clarifies that we exhibit service before self when we hold faith that our chain of command is making the best decisions possible in regard to balancing the needs of the mission and the needs of the Airmen. Losing faith in the system, according to “The Little Blue Book,” means you believe you know better than those in your chain of command.
Think back over the last month. How often have you complained to your coworkers about a decision your leadership made? How often have you bad-mouthed an Air Force initiative? How often have you doubted the effectiveness of a program? How often have you written off a fellow Airman for failing at a task?
We need to put our faith back in the system.
When our leadership makes a decision, we need to have faith the decision they made was in the best interest of meeting the needs of the mission and the people. After all, they have more information about the bigger picture at their level. When an Air Force initiative comes out, we need to have faith that it is in the best interest of the greater good of the service.
Instead of complaining about it, find out the details of why it was implemented. We need to have faith that the programs the Air Force has put in place will be effective, not just comply with them like they are some kind of drill. We need to have faith that each of our fellow Airmen are working to the best of their ability, and if they fail, there is a reason behind that failure that can be fixed.
Now, all of this have faith in the system talk does not mean to just follow blindly. Don’t just “Shut up and color.” We need to be actively engaged. We need to ask questions and challenge decisions appropriately. We need to identify deficiencies in our processes and the processes of other agencies we work with on a daily basis and strive to help improve our programs. I feel by doing these things, you still exhibit faith in the system. Complaints breed dissent and ruin an organization. Active engagement breeds pride, creates a culture of consistent improvement and gives people something in which to have faith.
Let’s believe in the Air Force we all dedicated ourselves to and strive to behave in a way that makes everyone around us want to put their faith in us. Let’s put our faith back in the system.