As I prepared the commencement speech for the recent Community College of the Air Force graduation ceremony, my mind kept returning to a familiar theme. I thought of this important accomplishment’s place on the journey to excellence.
As with every journey, the trip is often more challenging than the arrival. I thought of my sons and their attitudes when we went on family trips. Four words that haunt every parent came to mind: Are we there yet?
This question is usually asked frequent enough to drive a person crazy. Even worse is when we finally arrive, the question is usually, “When are we leaving?” On our journey to excellence, are we there yet? Leaders, families and Airmen should internalize this question in different ways as they plot a course on the journey to excellence.
Leaders, are we there yet? Have we reached excellence? Whatever the opinion, the solution to how we get there is vested in our people. Allowing time for our Airmen to develop the skills and aptitude needed to be technical experts within their specialties is essential.
The Air Force mission is growing in complexity. Executing the mission to fly, fight and win requires our Airmen to attain the professional military and technical education needed to not only accomplish detailed tasks, but also lead their Airmen in doing the same.
Our Airmen are the answer to how we attain excellence on our journey. The fuel that propels any Airman on the journey to excellence is our families.
Families have always been there on the journey to excellence. Families were there when Airmen had to work late hours to launch humanitarian operations. Families were there when service members had to take yet another deployment and leave before Christmas.
Our families are already at the journey’s destination; our families are excellent and put up with a lot of hardship in the members’ absence and are cherished. They allow the member to focus on their journey to excellence.
Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, are we there yet? On the journey to excellence, is there ever a time when we actually arrive? Is there a time when a process can’t be improved to make mission execution more effective? When should we let our guard down?
In this environment of more with less, the work is never done. As one chapter closes, another opens. In our roles as leaders, families and members executing the mission, there will never be an arrival point. We are not there yet, but we’re getting closer daily. Buckle up and enjoy the ride on the journey to excellence. Congratulations again to the CCAF class of 2013!