Where is your focus? I have seen a disturbing trend over the last few years that tells me our focus may not be where the Air Force needs it to be.
I recently heard about a young technical sergeant who was unhappy with her new duty title. She approached her superintendent with concerns that the new title may negatively impact her chances of making chief master sergeant. While I applaud her long term goals, I can’t help but wonder if her focus is off.
As a technical sergeant, she should be focused on two things: perfecting her technical skills and leading her people to meet the mission. She should be doing the absolute best with whatever job or duty title is given to her. It is the job of her leadership to recognize and reward her based on the merit of her performance. Unfortunately, in today’s Air Force, there are some “leaders” whose focus is in the wrong direction; some may be too busy looking out for their own careers that they don’t have time to develop leaders underneath them.
When people are so focused on their careers, and their personal future, there is a tendency to sacrifice the collective present. We start to look for ways to pad our resume to make ourselves more competitive. Is that what we are about? When we engage in community activities because we can get a bullet out of it rather than for the opportunity to make a difference, we sully the core value of service before self. Service — now that is a word we should focus on.
Have we somehow lost sight of the broad stripes and bright stars that should completely capture our focus? Maybe, because we have become so self-consumed, we have forgotten that service can be hard, uncomfortable, cold, dreary, and even deadly; it is also what we proudly signed up for. Maybe the career counseling we need to concentrate on is how to do our jobs better, how to become better leaders, and how to do it all without the thought of how it may just be useful in helping our careers. That’s the real enemy of our service today: self. It clouds our judgment and steers our decisions down a path of indulgence. We lose the ability to make decisions for the good of the Air Force.
How do we fix it? Do your absolute best at whatever mission you are given and demand the same of those you lead. Get over yourself; identify leadership potential and purposely develop people to take your place. Change your focus outward rather than inward.
What can you give today? Not for a bullet, not for a medal, not for position, not even for a stripe. Think of what you can do for the betterment of our Air Force and the protection of our nation — that should be your focus.