Showing your true colors

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Royce "Bull" Terry
  • 71st Medical Operations Squadron commander
Not long ago my squadron was kicking around a few ideas on what we wanted to accomplish during 2010. As we explored the subject of staff development, we came to a strong agreement that we needed to put more time and effort into developing our civilian and contractor staff. After all, one-third of our workforce is civilians and contractors.

We have always embraced the philosophy of "One Team, One Fight." Though we have different rules for managing each work force we truly believe we are one family.

However, after we took a hard look at the implementation of this philosophy it became clear that we would like our efforts to be more deliberate and consistent.

As we eagerly started planning our first event, we wanted to ensure that it was fun yet beneficial. So we invited the Airman & Family Readiness Center to discuss various areas of interest and then administer a colors-personality test.

The colors test is always a fun event and would help our folks better understand themselves as well as how better to relate to the other members of the team. Who would have imagined that my taking this simple color test would have been riddled with conflict?

Before starting the test, the administrator instructed us to assign a value of four to the statement most like us, a three to the second, two to the third and a one for the statement least like us. Sounds pretty simple doesn't it? Well, I thought so until I started going through the questions.

As soon as I would find the answer to assign the value of four, I would find another one that should be the four. To complicate things, the two views were almost diametrically opposed. At first I didn't think too much about it but it continued question after question. By the end of the test I was a wreck, wondering if I even knew who I was -- not a problem I thought I had.

Once the scores were totaled, this test told me I had an orange personality. Orange personalities are characterized as a doer; someone that needs variety, adventure, fun and excitement. An orange is a person that is spontaneous; a courageous risk taker.

Wait a minute. I have always been gold. I'm a pharmacist by training, a planner where time management is paramount. Gold personalities are people who live by policy, procedures, schedules and are responsible, practical and dependable. What would the pharmacy community think if they found out I've turned into an orange? Even worse, what would the wing commander think if he knew one of his squadron commanders had turned orange?

Over the next few weeks, the color orange haunted my waking moments. I found myself searching for life changing events that may have pushed me into this orange mania. After some searching I remembered a life-changing event that occurred some two and one-half years ago.

I was running the Navy 5-mile race while assigned to the Pentagon. I had been training for a marathon and was in great shape. I consistently ran between 25 and 35 miles a week. The plan was to run this race, then the Army 10-miler and ultimately complete the Marine Corps Marathon.

I started the race, setting a fast pace and it felt good. It wasn't long before I hit the first quarter. Before I knew it I was at the halfway mark. I kept the pace fast and I soon hit the three-quarter marker. I still felt good and my time was smoking hot.

As I came around the last corner, I remember seeing the finish line and thinking that it was time to churn and burn. Unfortunately, that was the last thing I remember before waking up in the emergency room. During this minimally challenging race I had experienced a potentially fatal pulmonary embolism -- a blood clot in my circulatory system.

Without a moment's notice, my plans and my world were forever changed. It wasn't the week in the hospital, the many weeks injecting medicine into my belly or taking blood thinners for six months that were significant. In fact, I had almost forgotten these events all together.

The significant changes in my life occurred in how I would view my God, my family, my Air Force and those I touch, lead and serve. Through this event I found a renewed passion for all aspects of my life.

Without realizing it -- and it pains me to admit it -- perhaps I am, or am becoming, an orange personality. But that's the great thing about our Air Force. It doesn't matter if you're an orange, gold, blue, green or anything in between. We are "One Team, One Fight." We are brothers and sisters in arms, regardless of whether we're military, civilian or contractor, bound together by our commitment to the mission and service to our nation.

However you change along life's journey, whether it's through education, training, experience or even life-changing events, I encourage you to embrace the change. Apply that new found skill, information or awareness to your unique personality. Be yourself and show your true colors.

By the way -- do you know your color?