The Art of Discipline

F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- Fellow intercontinental ballistic missile professionals -- what color is your "belt?" If you're in a "blackbelt" job, are you continuing to perfect and hone your skills, or are you allowing yourself to stagnate? Discipline is an art, my kids taught me that.

My kids have been is Universal Kempo Karate for about two years. This year they decided to participate in a tournament. Normally, they train twice per week, but in the weeks prior to the tournament, they attended additional training sessions tailored specifically for the event.

One of the most impressive events was the blackbelt competitions. Blackbelts of various technical degrees paired against one another to spar for two one-minute rounds. They would enter the ring, bow to the senior judge, bow to each other and then on command, they'd go at it.

As I watched them demonstrate their craft, I couldn't help but think about what they went through to get to this level. The countless hours spent in training, working at basic punch, kick techniques.

They perfected their technique as they progressed through various belts, only earning blackbelt after years of demanding labor and discipline. Then it struck me; the discipline it took to get them to this point is no different than what we do in the ICBM world.

We enter our career fields as white belts -- learning the basics of how to use a technical order, how to run a vehicle check and the effective range of an M-4 rifle. We work in the office, the missile procedures trainer or out in the field to hone those fundamentals.

As we learn and grow, we upgrade our "belts" and become an NCO in charge or team chief. At some point, we might become instructors or evaluators. Eventually, we may become commanders, senior or chief master sergeants. But like blackbelts, we will never have full mastery of our art.
Do you have the necessary discipline?