It's Time: A Call to Excellence
By Col. James McClellan, 366th Maintenance Group Commander
/ Published February 15, 2013
MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- The other day I had the opportunity to observe a training class. The Noncommissioned Officer providing the instruction challenged the students to excel, to reach the next level. At the end of the course, he asked them, "How do you become the 'go to' person in your section?" While the student's answers varied, they revolved around three themes: Know the Standard, Practice the Standard, and Set the Standard. Collectively, these themes encompass the best parts of one of our core values, "Excellence in All We Do." The question is ... how do we turn these themes into action to aid us in our journey to this call to excellence? A deeper dive into these themes will help answer this question.
Know the Standard
The best way to ensure a successful journey is to plan ahead. For Airmen, as the students pointed out to the NCO, this means spending time getting educated and trained. Our system of education is second to none and as we prepare for the Certified Readiness Evaluation, each of us needs to spend focused time reading our Airman' s Manual, AFI 90-201, Base X and Installation Deployment Plans. However, knowing the standard is only part of it. Additionally, we need to take advantage of on-the-job training opportunities offered at the flight, squadron, group and wing levels. By doing this, we will hone our respective career field and war fighter skill sets. In this way, the new lessons learned will remain in our tool boxes before we head to the flight line or work center, where we practice the standard.
Practice the Standard
The old adage, "Practice Makes Perfect" is as valid today as it was when first spoken. However, in today's complex environment, we need to ensure our practices, as mentioned by the students, are framed by three references. First, each of us must take a disciplined approach in our daily routine. As members of the military, this should not be a far stretch. Often it is as simple as following the Tech Orders. Second, we need to slow down to speed up. What I mean is, we need to take a few extra seconds or minutes to properly plan our actions, or to execute them, so we don't incur re-work or extra work on the back end of the task. Finally, all of us need to strive to improve. An easy way to accomplish this is to conduct an after-action or lessons learned event after the task is completed. We normally accomplish this after large exercises, but do we make it a part of our daily routine to pause and reflect on how we could have completed the last task better? To ensure our hard work pays off and our journey is successful, I suggest we do. And if we do, will be well on our way to set the standard.
Set the Standard
Isn't it funny how hard work is often followed by success. And success is associated with setting the standard. Once we know the standard and practice to this level, it is in our DNA to take it to the next level. As Gunfighters, we often find innovative ways to accomplish our respective unit missions. In fact, our motto, "Fortune Favors the Bold," as well as our new wing vision statement, "To be the Combat Air Force's premier wing: a cohesive team enhancing our combat capability while building upon our legacy of innovative Gunfighter excellence!" both challenge us to step up to the plate and set the standard.
Whether we are faced with an Inspector General's visit or accepting the next career challenge, "Excellence in All We Do" is not just a phrase but an enduring value. And when fostered through knowing, practicing, and setting the standard, we will end our journey strong and we will be able to say with conviction ... "They can't stop us!"