Mirror, mirror on the wall…

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Thomas Bacon
  • 71st Medical Operations Squadron commander
"Who in this land is fairest of all?" or similar words would be the natural response of most people that see the title of this article.

I would guess that the vast majority of folks are familiar with the fairy tale of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" and of the magical mirror that her evil stepmother possessed. In the story, this mirror would answer truthfully to any question it was asked.

Since March of this year Vance AFB personnel have been exposed to three forms of "talking mirrors," known in the Air Force as compliance inspections. These inspections consisted of experts from outside agencies brought in to assess how "fair" we are in observing ourselves and our programs and taking the corrective actions needed to be the "fairest of all" or "Outstanding" in Air Force parlance.

So far, so good, as we have shown vast improvements on our scores in the Environmental, Safety and Occupational Health Compliance Assessment and Management Program inspection, Health Services inspection and the Accreditation Association of Ambulatory Health Care inspection from Vance's last evaluations from these agencies.

We are currently waiting for the results of our latest inspection, known simply as a Compliance Inspection. I anticipate the results of this last inspection will again show the "outstanding" effort of Team Vance in fulfilling our mission -- "To develop professional Airmen, deliver world-class Joint Pilots and deploy combat ready warriors."

So why use the analogy of a talking mirror to illustrate this point? The mirror represents the self-inspection process that is so vital to the success we have recently experienced. By utilizing the mirror of self-inspection throughout the months and years between inspections we can self-correct the flaws or weaknesses we discover in our programs and processes.

The stronger the self-inspection program the less surprised we will be when outside agencies tell us the "truths" they observe in our programs and the more pleased we will be with their feedback.

Let me take this analogy to a more personal level. We can't expect excellence in our unit programs if we don't expect it in ourselves. "Excellence in all we do" starts at the most basic or individual level.

How are you doing at conducting "self" inspections? Have you reflected recently on you mental, physical or spiritual well-being? I have learned the easiest person to fool is myself. I have also found being honest with myself is sometimes a bitter pill to swallow.

It's usually easier to walk away and try to forget the imperfections we see in our character or personal choices than to act on changing our weaknesses into strengths. Corrective actions usually require work, discipline and time. It may even require us to swallow our pride and seek help from others. But the satisfaction of resolving a weakness and seeing the fruit of your effort is hard to beat.

The late pop artist, Michael Jackson, in 1988 released what was to become an epic single called "Man in the Mirror." Let's take a moment to reflect on the chorus of this song.

"I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make a change."

This song touched the hearts of millions because of the strength of its message. The positive changes we seek in our military world today can only be accomplished through individuals who see beyond what is, to what should be, and their conscious choice to make it happen.

As we close out this inspection season at Vance, let us continue to be vigilant in our self-inspection processes at the unit level. Let us enjoy the progress we have made since the last inspections and continue to strive for "Excellence in all we do."

Let us also focus on the larger view to "make the world a better place" by our individual efforts to effect change first in ourselves, and then in our communities, the military and the United States. It all starts with the person you see in the mirror and their personal choices, attitudes and actions.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who can effect change most of all? You can.