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Professionalism, knowledge, balance — tools needed for continued success

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Glenn Harris
  • 90th Operations Support Squadron commander
In my 17 years of military service, I have seen many outstanding military organizations and Airmen. Were these Airmen born with this "outstanding" trait? Unlikely. Did the organizations become "outstanding" without some sort of successful internal communication? Also unlikely. Outstanding Airmen are grown, and they in turn make outstanding organizations. Outstanding Airmen have a desire to continuously improve themselves and everyone else in the organization. This continued drive for improvement can be defined in three key words: professionalism, knowledge and balance.

Professionalism is at the heart of who we are as an organization; it can very well be the most important part of an organization's culture. Part of building a strong culture is respecting people around you, no matter what their role or situation. Don't let a bad day impact how you interact with your co-workers. Our responsibility is to learn our job and perform to the best of our abilities. One example of how I have seen personnel excel at their job is through regular review of their applicable Air Force Instructions. Knowing your job is essential to performance and professionalism and will have favorable rewards in the end. At an ICBM unit, job knowledge and attention to detail cannot be overemphasized. As we have seen in recent years, the reputation of personnel, units and the Air Force is at stake.

Outstanding Air Force personnel ask questions. They seek knowledge and constantly question why we do things the way we do, why the rules are written the way they are. You may be surprised by the questions and ultimately the learning experience that results from inquisitive personnel. Asking questions helps us all drive for continuous improvement and helps remind us that we may not know as much as we think. Outstanding personnel are often humble; realizing they do not understand everything and are completely open to learning from others. They tend to get out of their comfort zone and seek advice from senior mentors or co-workers who may have different perspectives which will lead to a better understanding on a variety of topics. It's not often easy, but learning from others provides perspectives and insights that cannot be gleaned from any other source of information. An organizational culture that supports and fosters questions will yield individuals who have diverse knowledge and fine tuned skills. That kind of organization will easily meet and exceed its responsibilities and expectations.

The Air Force's demands and challenges could easily occupy all of our time. Add our spouses, children or significant others into the daily schedule and we're often too overloaded to adequately rest, grow and be involved with family as we should or need to be. Balance is key. An Outstanding Air Force organization needs outstanding personnel and we can't be outstanding if we're overwhelmed. We must create and maximize free time for respite, growth and family bonding. Church, sports, community involvement and education are all examples of how we can provide balance in our lives. Regardless of your faith, a church family can offer support and repose. If your squadron has an intramural sports team, you may find it is a great way to relax with friends and family.

Wyoming and Colorado offer a variety of incredible outdoor recreation such as snow skiing, hiking and camping which can be enjoyed almost all year long. Volunteer opportunities within the Cheyenne community are abundant. Don't forget to continually build on your own personal education, whether through formal education or leisurely reading, viewing, or listening to your favorite topics. Our day-to-day performance at home and at work is sustained by the breadth and depth of our knowledge.

I firmly believe that off duty rest time can revitalize members and produce Air Force personnel that will come back to work to be more productive and creative. Take advantage of the services that are provided on base at outdoor recreation, the bowling center, the arts and crafts center, the base theatre and Fall Hall Community Center to name a few. Don't forget about your buddy. If you know someone who needs a break, get them out and about. Be involved. We all need to be good Wingmen and help keep each other in balance.

Bottom line ... as we all know, all Airmen are leaders and it does not depend on rank. When a new person arrives in your unit, be professional, respect them, encourage them to ask questions and make sure they know what F. E. Warren and Cheyenne have to offer when they need a break. We are all responsible for the success of our personnel, units and ultimately our Air Force. I encourage all Airmen to think about what professionalism, knowledge and balance means to you.