DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz --
When I was single, enlisted and much younger, I was deployed over Christmas and New Year’s. I vividly recall being at the mess hall at Al Jaber Air Force Base in Kuwait during the Christmas season. The mess hall was decorated for the season, and during dinner in came Santa. My only thought was… why? Why have Santa? Why decorate the mess hall? Can’t we just treat it like another day? Thinking about Christmas, New Year, Birthdays, a military member can have a drastically different meaning than it does to others, as there are times when the mission calls us to miss those joyous days. In the same way, I also remember the months leading up to my first ETS. Just three more months… I can do pretty much anything for three months! Just one more month, just one more week, just one more day. How much time do we waste by thinking it is just one more… whatever? How much could we grow, improve and develop as Airmen or just as people, in just one more day, one more month, or one more year?
This time of year people also make New Year’s resolutions that they have no intention to follow through. The gyms are normally packed with people from Jan. 1 through Jan. 14. The thought process that I am trying to implement in my own social, psychological, behavioral, environmental, medical/dental, physical, nutritional and spiritual fitness, is not about a New Year’s resolution that I have no intention to keep, but it is a change of thought process. How can I use this year, this month, this week, this day, this hour, to be more than just one more to get through, but how can I grow into a healthier individual in this one segment of time?
This year, with everything going on, particularly with the difficulties of COVID-19, it could be a banner year for depression or a banner year for resilience training. We can allow ourselves to drop into despair and sadness, or use this year, or this day, to learn how we can overcome obstacles, face adversity and emerge as more reliant individuals. If we can develop a mindset where this is not just another chunk of time to check off, but a chance to grow, we can look at our difficulties with hope, knowing that hardships bring perseverance, which brings character, which brings hope. So is this just another day or is this day a chance to grow?
One primary role for leaders is to instill readiness in those they lead. It is difficult to lead others in instilling readiness, and it is difficult to put in the work to be ready for the next mission, to prepare for the future, when this day is just another day. If this year is just another year, or this is just another month closer to ETS or PCS, then what would one do to be prepared? They are simply preparing for the end, not the process to get there. So regardless of how long one will be in the Air Force or in this particular unit, do we make this one more chunk of time, or one more opportunity to be more prepared for the future?
Fellow airmen, I implore you, do not let time just pass by, waiting for that next benchmark in your life. Each and every day, let us look at it not as a check box we need to get through, but as an opportunity to grow and develop as Airmen and more importantly, as human beings. Let us grow in resilience and perseverance each day, and not let time pass us by, but grow into the people we are meant to be, ready to take on the next challenge that awaits us.