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The attributes needed to ensure success throughout life

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Marty Anderson
  • 90th Missile Wing command chief
Many Airmen ask the question, "What do I have to do to be successful?" I usually respond with two questions. First, because it is not the same for everyone, what is your definition of success? And second, what are your goals that will lead to your view of success?

Eleven years ago, I had the distinct pleasure of listening to Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Robert Gaylor speak during the 57th Wing' s annual awards ceremony at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. He stated there are three key attributes that, when applied appropriately, will produce a successful outcome. He said aptitude, attitude and opportunity, when put together, will create success.

Everyone's definition of success will be different and will change over time as a person reaches or changes their goals. First, you have to know what you want to achieve -- what are your goals in life. Everyone should have personal and professional goals to give them something to strive for. If you don't know what you are shooting for, how will you know if you hit the target?

Aptitude is having the knowledge and cognitive abilities to develop and implement a plan to achieve your goals. This is why education and professional development are key to being able to establishing a vision for yourself. Professional development provides you an understanding of what you can accomplish as well as what is truly required for you to reach your goals. For example, if you want to be a chief master sergeant, you will need to make sure you have completed your Community College of the Air Force associate' s degree along with the Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy by correspondence course or you will not receive a senior rater endorsement on your enlisted performance reports, making you noncompetitive. Professional development teaches you the leadership characteristics and management skills the Air Force is looking for that particular grade. Education provides you the knowledge to develop and apply those skills in your work center which will enhance mission accomplishment for the Air Force.

Having the right attitude is important because it provides a positive outlook for you and on life as well. You have to believe you can achieve your goals. Attitude is identifiable through behaviors. How do you react to being assigned a very challenging task? Is it with enthusiasm or "why me?" The individuals who have the fortitude to stand up and say we can do this during the most trying times experience the true meaning of 'success.' I personally witnessed, during the most difficult of times, that a positive attitude can turn things around impacting morale and mission accomplishment.

Having the knowledge along with the right attitude creates opportunity. Opportunity is everywhere. You have to have the situational awareness to see it and the motivation to grab it! Opportunity is the challenges in life that show your expertise and highlight your personal character. When your supervisor asks you to take on a special work project or get involved in the community and you make excuses as to why you can't, you missed a valuable opportunity. Chances are, you may not be given another one because you just reflected your attitude.

Everyone has the same opportunity in life to be successful, but not everyone has the same potential. I had to work hard in order to develop my potential in order to reach my goals. I took advantage of any education I could get and then figured out how to implement my new found knowledge in making the AF better. When I reached out and latched onto opportunity I did not always achieve the high level of performance standard I was shooting for, but I learned from it and if the opportunity presented itself, I attempted it again. This is where the right attitude is important. I saw failures as an opportunity to learn and grow. I gained more knowledge and insight from my failures than I did from my successes. I never gave up and was never scared or lacked motivation to look for other opportunities to learn and grow.

By having a solid work ethic and applying these three attributes, you will achieve some measure of success. If you have the heart and motivation to accomplish the mission through taking care of your Airmen, I can promise you a very successful and rewarding life!