Get tough, solve problems, take pride in what we do

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. David Merritt
  • 71st Operations Support Squadron commander
Here I am again, trying to figure out how to use this opportunity to say something useful. This is my last commentary before I depart this summer.

In previous articles I've talked about never walking past a problem, how we can't do this mission without the support of our families and figuring out a way to say yes. This time I want to discuss getting tough, fully solving problems and taking pride in what we do.

You don't have to be an ultimate fighter to be considered tough. It's not just about being physically tough. You have to be mentally tough and on your game. No whining, no excuses, no entitlements, no hand-outs, no free passes -- just get it done.

Drive to the goal line on whatever task you're given. Don't quit if initial contact is not in your favor. If you get sacked on first down you don't punt the ball on second down. If you hook a ride, get back in there. As Navy Cmdr. "Scooter" Wathen would say, "Get mad at it!"

Be tough and focus. Our profession isn't easy; never has been, never will be. It takes hard work and toughness to stay the course.

Our Air Force needs problem solvers. When you're given a task do you follow it through to the end? Do you think outside the container and try to come up with a way ahead? Do you provide the best possible solution -- or just the easiest? Sometimes they're the same, but usually the best answer takes extra effort.

When you support your customers on base, do you go the extra distance to ensure the whole issue is solved or do you answer just enough to make the person go away? If you're the expert, do you help the customer get the right answer, even if the customer didn't know all the right questions?

Don't short change our issues. Solve the problems you're presented. From figuring out the proper training plan for a struggling 3-level to updating someone's information in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, it's important we as experts get it right.

Finally, have pride in what you do. You're the best we have at your job. If you don't believe you are then you need to get tough and figure out why you aren't. Your work is your service. Your name is on it.

Take pride in each task you complete. Your attention to detail on the smallest of issues shows your pride as a professional. You're serving your country. Did you earn your paycheck? Did you give the American people your best today? Would they think so if they could see you on the job?

Bring your "A" game every day. Never quit. As Master Sgt. James Rogers in my Air Traffic Control training shop would say, "Raise the bar!" Don't settle for mediocrity. Take pride in what you do. It's a mission, not a job. There is a difference. Take pride in doing your mission.

Though I'm not even close to being a fan of his team, Bill Belichick, coach of the NFL's New England Patriots, had a great mantra during their perfect regular season in 2007: "Do your job." Please insert "mission" in our case. On the football field, if each player masters his position and does his job, the team is going to execute with precision.

As Airmen, we must be masters of our domain, experts in our specialty, whatever it is, and do our mission. We must be tough in doing so. We must not fail or be tripped up by excuses. We must have pride in what we do.

Be the best at your mission. All of us are counting on you. We're counting on each other. Understand that none of us are as strong as all of us.