Embracing change with a positive attitude

  • Published
  • By Maj. Ty Christian
  • 4th Contracting Squadron commander
In recent times we have adopted the phrase of "doing more with less" for answering how to handle manpower cuts, a high deployment operations tempo and funding issues. Many have started to ask when we are going to understand that at some point we have to do "less with less."

However, if you step back and take a look at our history, especially our recent history, large cuts are nothing new. In fact, if you trace our entire history you probably can't point out a time when the United States Air Force wasn't dealing with change since September 18, 1947. The advantage of a relatively short history, I say that for my mother who was born the same day, is that our constant experience with change gives us unique abilities and skills to handle our current situation. Not to mention our history documents we are pretty good at dealing with change as we have went from a non-existent service to the world's most powerful Air Force in only 64 years!

Sure we can sit and panic, or we can do what those who came before us did and embrace the change, make it happen in the superb fashion we know how. But where do we start? It's an easy answer, with our attitude! I think Dr. Charles "Chuck" Swindoll says it best "...we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change the inevitable...the only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude ...I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent of how I react to it. And so it is with you ...we are in charge of our attitudes."

There are no for sure answers for our future, and let's face it; what concerns most is how it will impact them at the individual level. There is one way to circumvent many of those concerns, as Maj. Gen. Stephen Hoog laid it out clearly during his recent visit when he stated, "Excellence is the new standard." If you're getting excellent PT scores, if you're excelling at your job, receiving strong performance reports, if you're out volunteering and making an impact in the wing, then your chances of negative impact go way down. If none of these apply to you, yes you can worry, get caught up in the panic or you can choose to fix it...that's where we come back to attitude.

Beyond the individual we as a service need to remain vigilant in "deliberately developing" our Airman to ensure our future. Commanders, directors, leaders, supervisors, civilian and military, need to work together to enhance our internal capabilities. With dwindling assets comes more work, less time to train, less ability to monitor or provide time for development. However, neglecting the development of our people is not an acceptable choice. As a relatively new parent my fellow squadron members have often heard me use my personal experiences of potty training my 2-year old toddler as an example. When you begin potty training a toddler it is tough, it means you will have "accidents" to clean up, you will spend time arguing with them to go and you will have several emotions. It is amazing how excited both of you get the first time they actually "go" correctly, high fives all around, you share it with other family members, post it on Facebook...yes my wife did. The point being, taking the time to train and focus on your people is hard, but if you don't do it they will never learn. In a time of doing more with less, I am guessing most organizations need all of their folks learning to perform on their own.

Despite the many proposed changes, I doubt very much one of them is to be anything less than the number one Air Force in the world. If we stay true to our history, embrace change with a positive attitude, and focus on our greatest assets, there is no reason we won't be celebrating our 128th birthday as the greatest Air Force the world has ever known.