'Heart checks' important for daily routine

  • Published
  • By Capt. Tana R. H. Stevenson
  • Public Affairs
One of the most important things you can do as an Airman is to give yourself regular heart checks. No, not a heart check up - a heart check. 

"True quality is embodied in the actions of Air Force people who take decisive steps to improve processes and products; who capitalize on quality as a leverage tool to enhance products, achieve savings, and improve customer service; and who exemplify our core values of integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do," said retired General Ronald R. Fogleman, former chief of staff of the Air Force. 

It's the third Air Force core value that directly relates to heart checks. Let me explain. 

There are many types of excellence for which Airmen can strive. Service, product or operational excellence can be measured. There are more subjective standards for personal or community excellence. But no matter what standard you use to determine your level of excellence, there is one good way to know if you are doing it right. Check your heart. 

For excellence in service, don't be satisfied with delivering a product. Ask yourself if that was the best product you could provide, if you treated the customer with respect, if the service was timely and if you had the right attitude. Would you have been satisfied with your service? 

If you achieved excellence in your service, chances are that your heart was in the right place when you took action. It is important that your heart is in the right place as an Airman, because your actions effect all of those around you. 

"'Excellence' does not stop with singular achievements, which is why our core value has the qualifier of 'in all we do.' A culture of excellence must inform and permeate all of our actions," according to Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne's January 2007 letter to Airmen. 

It matters where your heart is when you make decisions and take actions. Judges, biblical teachings and even the 4th Fighter Wing commander all reference the importance of what is in our heart. 

There are common legal ramifications for what was in a person's heart when a crime was committed. Intent can be a crucial element in determining if certain acts were criminal. 

There are biblical teachings that recognize the importance of what is in your heart regardless of what action chosen. The book of Matthew mentions that if you are thinking sinful thoughts, you've sinned in your heart. 

Col. Steve Kwast asked us to remain humble in our Operational Readiness Inspection success. He asked us to review our report with a humble heart and use it for the vision of where our wing needs to go to be perfect for upcoming challenges. 

If these reasons to give yourself heart checks don't appeal to you, there are some practical and selfish reasons to strive for good heart checks. 

Airmen who have been in the military for more than one term will likely tell you that it is a small world. Although we travel across the globe, we seem to run into the same faces more than once. That will continue to be true as the Air Force experiences personnel cut backs, career field retraining and merges. 

My personal experience of a career change is a perfect example. As a technical sergeant, I was selected for Officer Training School. I left the visual information community to become an officer in public affairs. Six years later, the Air Force is merging my old and new career field. 

If I would have left my old career field with arrogance or a lack of respect for others, I might be embarrassed to depend on those same NCOs to guide me through the new territory of merging personnel and capabilities. You never know who you will run into again in your career. 

If you merely do a heart check on a daily basis, you can be sure you're on the right track to excellence in all you do. What is in your heart will come out in your actions.