Do a good job – people do notice

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Twenty eight years have now passed since I arrived at my first base as an airman basic, fresh out of technical school and eager to become a part of the “real Air Force.” I’ve held several jobs during those seven years of enlisted and 21 years of officer service, in two branches of the military. What have I learned over that time that could be of value to troops of all ranks and career fields in becoming the next generation of Air Force and Air Commando leaders?

Excel at your job regardless of your career field. Whether you are an airman basic or colonel, people up and down your chain of command do notice how well you perform. Remember that every job is important to success in our mission to defend our country. Learn your job to the best of your ability; be reliable and willing to take on extra responsibility. Yes, taking on more does mean more work, but advancement goes to those that can get the job done. You should strive to be that “go to” person. It’ll pay off.

When those quarterly award packages come around, your name will start to be considered. Your Enlisted Performance Reviews and Officer Performance Reviews will get easier to write, and promotions will come faster. By mastering the details of your job, studying for promotion tests will only be a review rather than having to learn details that you should already know. Always do your best. You never know when or where great opportunities may come your way because somebody noticed the way you do your job.

Supervisors, be fair and take care of your troops, especially the junior ones. Take them aside and let them know how they are doing and give them that encouraging nudge. Let them know you do see how well they perform. Make sure they know how they fit into the “big picture” and understand how the Air Force works.

One of my most discouraging times in the Air Force occurred when I was told one day that I would have to leave the aircraft I was a crew chief on and go work in the tire shop. I had been working hard to do a good job, and here I was getting “fired” from what I loved doing. No one bothered to tell me that it was just a temporary six-month assignment and that most junior Airmen are routinely needed to fill various side jobs on a rotating basis. I was quite distressed for about six weeks until I figured out what happened. Don’t let that happen to your people, especially those in their first two years of service.

Chase your dreams and encourage others to do so as well, whether in or out of the military. I never gave much thought to a “career” in the military.

With every job I have held, I really enjoyed where I was and what I was doing, and just kept striving for the next interesting job or position. In my case, military service fit quite nicely with my goals. I started college with the encouragement of family and fellow Airmen while I was a senior airman. Nearing college graduation, I realized that I actually had a chance to fly in those cool jet aircraft that I had been working on - a dream of mine since I was a kid.

I applied and was accepted for navigator flight training. I had six fantastic years flying all over the world. Then I achieved my next goal, a career in medicine. With the exception of my college degree, I received my training directly from the military – technical school, flight training and medical school.

Master your job and go after those dreams, whether it’s the next promotion or a major career change.

The Air Force can provide great opportunity for upward mobility. Keep pushing to achieve your goals, always strive for excellence, and you will soon become one of our next generation of Air Force and Air Commando leaders.