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Opening pathways to success

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- When speaking with Airmen people about their career goals and aspirations, I am routinely asked what assignments they should pursue or what the path to success is. My usual response is there is no single assignment or path to success, but there are a few keys which can help open pathways to success. They are: professional, attitude, relationships and team.

The dictionary definition of a professional is one “possessing great skill in a field or activity.” In order to possess that great skill, Airmen must continuously strive to become better at their profession – the profession of arms. Airmen are charged with the responsibility of potentially employing a wide variety of weapons in the defense of our nation. In order to utilize the full spectrum of aerospace weapons, Airmen need to continuously increase their knowledge so they may develop the skills required of their vocation.

The Air Force provides a full gamut of educational opportunities to include professional military education, higher educational degrees as well as professional certification programs. In a recent letter to Airmen, Michael Wynne, Secretary of the Air Force, stated, “Developing people to lead the world’s best air, space, cyber force takes the personal commitment of all Airmen … to learn as much as possible about the complexities of our profession of arms.”

Attitude is the second key to success. Attitude is the way we look at life, i.e. “is the glass half full or is it half empty.” People with a positive attitude increase morale and productivity not only in themselves, but in their fellow Airmen. Just take a look around your work space and compare a person with a positive attitude to an individual who sits around and bemoans their fate. You will find the person with the positive attitude brightens the office and makes it more pleasurable for everyone to come to work on a daily basis. When hiring for the 91st Operations Support Squadron, one of the factors considered is attitude, because with the right attitude, Airmen can be trained in everything they need to know.

Building relationships is the third key. I agree with the adage, “who you know is just as important as what you know,” because if you don’t know the answer, someone out there does. Start building professional relationships now. From experience, I can tell you that I still call and get calls from people I met during my first tour here, 17 years ago. Provide assistance to people and I guarantee they will help you when you ask for it. Maintain those relationships by making it a habit of staying in touch. Make a phone call or send a note; e-mail has made it easier and more convenient than ever. Building relationships is closely related to the last key for success – think team.

Team is your crew partner, section, flight, squadron, group, wing and eventually the Air Force. If you think team, everyone benefits from your actions, thoughts and ideas. Consider the fact that similar organizations usually have identical requirements. As an example, there are three operations support squadrons supporting the intercontinental ballistic missile mission in the 20th Air Force. These squadrons all have the same basic requirements and when we share experiences, ideas, and products, we make everyone better, and reduce the overall workload.

Examples of things we have shared in the past are lessons learned from previous inspections, new training products, responses to higher headquarters’ taskers, and a database tracker. By helping each other, we help everyone, especially the bigger Air Force team.

Although there is no single assignment or path to success, do your PART and you will be closer to your goals. I leave you with one last thought from the great American industrialist, Henry Ford, who said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t -- you are right.”