To be successful you have to enjoy what you’re doing

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Dwain Kuehl
  • 5th Flying Training Squadron commander
While preparing to fly with a T-38 student in the formation phase of training this past week, I was reminded of how important it was to enjoy what one does in life. As I sat down to brief the two-ship formation flight, I asked the student, whom I had never flown with, how things were doing.

The answer initially surprised me. "Sir when I have good flights which result in good grades I am pretty happy. However, lately I have had some difficulty figuring out formation and it has been kind of hard mentally to stay upbeat. Learning formation seems to just be a lot of work for me."

The more I talked with this student, it became obvious that learning how to fly formation was particularly demanding and the challenging task of learning how to maneuver two airplanes in relation to each other was impacting their confidence and motivation.

I soon realized that the success of the upcoming flight was going to hinge on this student's ability to enjoy learning, rather than treating formation flying as arduous work.

Throughout my 20 years of service I have learned that to be really good and successful at something, people have to enjoy doing it. If they don't, oftentimes they will not be very successful at it. In the words of Aristotle, "Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work."

Armed with this line of thinking, I did my best to help the student learn to enjoy the tasks at hand rather than be concerned with how difficult they were. Throughout the briefing, during sortie and in the post flight debrief it became apparent that the more students enjoy flying in formation, the better they perform.

In short, work and military service give people a sense of purpose. It's not uncommon for work to be a large part of a person's life. Nearly everyone I have met in the military wants and needs to feel accomplished and successful. Serving and working as part of the finest military organization in the world allows us to strive for our best and to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

As a Reserve squadron commander I am often asked, "How do your personnel, who have been here 10 plus years, stay so motivated to continue to serve and instruct students, especially your traditional Reserve members with civilian jobs, family demands and who don't live near Vance?"

The answer I give is very simple. Our instructors enjoy teaching students and appreciate the opportunity to serve their country. How else could one explain an individual voluntarily leaving their home, family and employer to sometimes travel thousands of miles to Enid, Okla., to teach young men and women to fly military airplanes?

As a supervisor, or even if one thinks of themselves as a worker bee, I believe the above question has merit for all military members. How do you stay motivated or motivate others to enjoy their work and create an atmosphere of success? I think the best answer came from one of our flight line supervisors. In his words, "Every day people have a personal choice to make when they come to work, especially in regards to how they view their job?"

I challenge all Vance Team members to make a positive choice and enjoy the work they do in service to our nation, each and every day. It can become all too easy to get wrapped up in changes in policy, changes in the work environment or personal demands. Choosing to enjoy the work one does while serving our military, can only lead to individual success and the success of the Air Force.

I leave you with this quote from our previous Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, which highlights these thoughts extremely well.

"Enjoy your time in public service. It may well be one of the most interesting and challenging times of your life."