Airmen must be flexible

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Hugh Ellington
  • 62nd Medical Operations Squadron
Today's Air Force is constantly changing. Whether through technological advances, force shaping or joint basing, every day these changes lead to new challenges.

As Airmen, we must be able to adapt and overcome in order to successfully accomplish the mission.

The following five characteristics are traits that, if possessed, will enable Airman to have the tools to adapt and overcome any challenge and bring success to any organization:

Develop relationships and establish networks

Good leaders and supervisors don't always come up with the right answers off the top of their heads, but they should know where to find them.

You cannot be successful with your knowledge and skills alone.

You need to rely on others, and likewise, others need to rely on you.

Building and establishing relationships, both within and outside the organization, will bring great value and accomplishments to any unit.

Continue advance learning

Not only should you focus on traditional advanced education, but increase your job knowledge by researching books and material related to your occupation. 

Advanced education and knowledge related to your specific trade are only two slices of a three-slice pie.

You should also focus on increasing your overall breadth of knowledge.

One source of recommended reading material is the Air Force chief of staff's reading list.

This list contains suggested publications that cover a broad range of topics.

You will be surprised at how broadening your knowledge of various disciplines will increase your job proficiency and your communication skills.

Don't be afraid to ask questions

Charles Steinmetz said, "No man really becomes a fool until he stops asking questions."

If you are in doubt or if you do not understand, do not be afraid to ask a question or call a time out.

Within our squadron, we brief every newcomer about a time out.

A time out is called when one feels that something is wrong and that action or event is to be stopped and discussed. 

The action or event does not continue until all agree that it is safe or appropriate to continue.

Learn from your mistakes

We are all human, and we will all make mistakes.

As I learned in a computer class years ago, computers don't make the mistakes; the people who wrote the programs are the ones who made the mistakes.

But at times it's okay to make a mistake, as long as you learn from it and you don't repeat it.

Achieving personal goals helps others

If you do not have any short or long term goals -- set them.

By setting personal goals, you will identify and understand those things that matter to you and motivate you.

Once those have been set, you can design your life around your personal aspirations.

If you are happy and satisfied, you are more able to help others.

Although there are many more characteristics that lead to success, these are the five I have personally focused on throughout my career.

Please share with others, the characteristics of success you value.