What is the point?
By Lt. Col. Andrew P. Hansen, 18th Aggressor Squadron
/ Published January 18, 2011
EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- "Most people give up just when they're about to achieve success. They quit on the one yard line. They give up at the last minute of the game, one foot from a winning touchdown." - Ross Perot
"I wouldn't give a fig for the simplicity on this side of complexity; I would give my right arm for the simplicity on the far side of complexity" - Oliver Wendell Holmes
The above are great quotes that are even more powerful and enlightening when taken together. Most people give up just before achieving success because they become lost in the complexities of life, forgetting the point of what they can and should do to be successful both personally and professionally.
The most senior Air Force leaders repeatedly emphasize that our greatest resource, by far, is our people. With each promotion comes the responsibility for each of us to focus, mentor and build on this critical point.
It is too easy to become lost in the daily grind, simply going through the motions without a clear vision of what the point really is. We have to get the most out of every opportunity and the only way to do that is ensuring that there are actionable objectives associated with everything we do.
Before we attend any meeting, we should know its purpose (the point!) and make sure we are more than prepared to make meaningful input, if appropriate, and that we take as much away from the meeting as possible. Attendees should personally ensure they do not leave a meeting room without knowing what the next action will be.
Personal development is vital to progress. I have found my most important meeting of the typical day is at the gym. Physical fitness is either a positive lifestyle choice, or a burden to our day depending solely on our personal attitude.
There is an important and significant relationship between physical condition and job performance. Thus, the Air Force demands a certain level of fitness and it is up to each of us to establish a life style that meets (and if we are serious about personal development and advancement, will exceed) the established standards. We should take this responsibility on individually while encouraging one another through organized physical training sessions.
What is the point of PT? To increase the physical fitness of those attending.
I drove past a group of Airman playing volleyball for their squadron PT last summer and they had a grill fired up for the post game. While I enjoy a good game of volleyball and love cheeseburgers, there is no point in either of these being associated with squadron PT.
Team sports build esprit de corps, which is sometimes lacking within an organization, but PTLs should ensure that every session primarily builds the fitness of our Airman. In short, run, do push-ups, sit-ups . . . then play.
Skeet shooting, dodge ball and golf have no place as the primary focus of a PT session if we hope to achieve the point!
In summary, I find some people have resolved to accept the status quo, in short, they have given up when the ball is potentially near the goal line with only a minute remaining. Just as the military cannot overlook the fact that people are our most valuable resource, we as Airman must bear in mind our responsibility to continuously improve, benefiting both ourselves, the Air Force mission and fully maximizing the service we provide to our great nation.
In short, we cannot afford to let our mental or physical engines idle - for if we are not progressing we are surely deteriorating and declining!
So what is the point? Just as Ross Perot so eloquently stated, none of us really knows how close to success we really are. Each day should be a new attempt of pushing the limits of our personal best. Establishing new and better mental, relational (family, superiors, contemporaries and subordinates) and physical thresholds as a basis for tomorrows push to even higher goals and achievements.
If successful, we achieve simplicity on the far side of complexity but, with failure, we become immersed in mediocrity. Yes, we have the support of Air Force leadership who have repeatedly emphasized our greatest resource is our people. With this support, we are personally responsible for continuously improving our organizations and ourselves in order to achieve mission success.