Commentary Search

What are your Rules of Work?

  • Published
  • By Capt. Kenneth Bush
  • 90th Security Force Squadron commander
Do you ever wake up in the morning full of good intentions for the day ahead and find that by the time you get to work you are no longer motivated? Or, maybe, you get off to a flying start, but when you get a flat tire or step in a mud puddle you let all your subordinates know you are frustrated and in a bad mood when you arrive to work. If you cannot keep a cool head during life's little challenges, then what confidence do your Airmen have in your leadership abilities during a real emergency?

As a leader, followers need to know they can count on you to be as cool as the other side of the pillow if you are placed in charge of any type of situation. Here's where my rules of work come into play. Rule 1: No matter how bad your day is going or what is still to come, the Airmen you are responsible for should never see you as someone who cannot handle stress but instead someone who is always calm and in control.

Rule 1 is just one of the many rules I follow at work which keeps me focused and motivated to do the mission. I also believe if I continue to abide by my own rules, then they will rub off on others. For example, if I am always in a positive mood and smile and greet people I work with, then they too might display this same positive energy toward others. The challenge is keeping yourself motivated to pay it forward to others. Basically, you need to become your own motivational speaker -- so to speak. The one thing over which you have absolute control in your entire life is your very own state of mind.

Some will suggest that you visualize what you want out of life and, up to a point, I have no problem with that; except that there are some people who do not know how to truly "get it." This brings me to Rule 2: Find a leader you respect and admire, and mirror their appearance and behavior. We all know it is incredibly difficult to reach the rank of chief master sergeant or colonel. Those individuals holding top-tier positions in the Air Force have proven they are doing something right. If they stand tall and speak with authority, then find your inner strength to be more of a direct leader. Notice how they wear their uniform with pride and show respect for their accomplishments.

So, what to do? You have recognized how successful leaders dress and the way they act but what about their work habits? This is a good lead for Rule 3: Do not waste time gossiping or spreading rumors. While some workers are spending time at the water cooler discussing who just got into trouble, you continue to get your work done. When you are present in your work area, you are more effective, more efficient, more productive and less likely to be derailed by whatever latest bit of nonsense comes your way. When I attend guardmounts or post visits in the field, I always ask the question, "Are there any rumors you want me to answer?" I do this because I would rather be honest and upfront with Airmen rather than having them to spend hours trying to figure out what is going on. Our Airmen need to be focused on the mission while at work and not on what might have happened, according to rumors, during their break. Always stay focused on what you can control and do not get distracted.

Nobody should care about your career more than you do. One of the Air Force Core Values is Service Before Self, and that is what keeps us dedicated to accomplishing the mission. Once the mission is completed, you must take time to take care of your personal priorities. This fits nicely with Rule 4: Look after yourself. Take time to make sure you are preparing year round for your physical training test. Also, set time aside to study for your next promotion or college examination. It is not easy to manage all these extra activities while also being there for your family and friends. Juggling all this can take a toll on you both physically and emotionally. Balance what works for you professionally and personally all the while keeping motivated to be a well-rounded person. It is difficult to maintain all these rules of work, but once you become committed to it, you have to be disciplined.

If you choose to set rules for yourself, then you will be committed to my last rule; Rule 5: Walk your talk. Eventually, co-workers and friends will see you a little different and you can explain to them what your rules are. Once you have told people what your rules are, then you will be held accountable for your actions if you stray away from your routine. Have confidence in your decision making and remember we are all being judged by our actions. Your rules of work will just keep you on track and be a reminder that you are a rules player who is loyal to mission success.