Balance--look at the big picture, keep it in perspective
By Lt. Col. Lynn Plunkett, 50 Space Communication Squadron Commander
/ Published January 07, 2013
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
I know it's one of those words leadership likes to throw out there, but is it really possible in today's constrained environment? I would offer "yes," as I am one of those leaders who has "balance" as one of my unit priorities. I do understand the impacts of a Consolidated Unit Inspection and other peaks in mission requirements and still feel it is possible, even during peak stressful times. In fact, it is even more important during times of stress.
You may have heard lately about Comprehensive Airman Fitness, especially during our October Wingman Day. This concept focuses on the importance of your physical, social, mental and spiritual well-being, as they all contribute to overall health. I agree with the importance of finding the right balance of these factors to make sure you take care of you. This falls very well into the balance I think is just as important--the balance between your responsibilities to yourself, your service and to others.
First, is your responsibility to yourself. This doesn't mean I don't believe in service before self; it merely means, take care of yourself or you will not be able to take care of your responsibilities to your service. Taking care of yourself means finding your balance and your minimal thresholds in the four above-mentioned areas associated with CAF. Life happens - injuries, family crises, end-of-semester educational requirements--balance can be tough. So though you may not have an exact balance every day, it is important to keep it all in perspective and know your minimum requirements in order to keep yourself healthy. You may like to work out every day, but as long as you go three times a week, you can still maintain a healthy balance. Maybe you like your morning devotionals, but as long as you get a few minutes at some point in the day, you can maintain a healthy balance. I recommend you develop your ultimate plan for a healthy you and then ensure you maintain your minimums and allow yourself some flexibility inside those parameters, even as life seems to get crazy.
Second is your responsibility to your service, which includes your wing, unit and fellow Airmen. There are times when it just has to get done; we have all been there, especially in the last few months. Your to-do list keeps getting longer - how can you possibly maintain balance? I offer that as one area is surging, for one reason or another, it is time to temporarily adjust. Move towards your minimum requirements in the other areas, allowing additional time to focus on the surge area in the short term. The key is don't get stuck and forget to rebalance as the surge subsides.
The last area is your responsibility to others. This area is quite a broad area and will mean many different things to different people. You need to ask yourself, what does this mean to me? It can mean time with your spouse and children, your parents, your significant other and your friends, but it can also mean chores, paying your bills, obligations to Boy Scouts or Big Brothers, Big Sisters. I have noticed that as military members we take on a lot! Other than daily chores, we must also uphold those other responsibilities. Planning ahead and looking at the big picture is important here; don't take on too much and spread yourself too thin, removing any chance of flexibility to throttle back to the minimum when required.
The word balance is thrown out a lot, as it should be, because it is important. The most important things in life aren't easy but the benefits you gain from them are significant. I challenge you today, after reading this commentary, to find your balance and determine your minimum thresholds. Then follow through--each day, take a moment to see where you are and how or if you need to adjust.