My Space – a privilege, a responsibility

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Although I used to be a computer network engineer, this article won't be about the dangers of social-networking Web sites -- or the hazards of pre-paying the Arch-Duke of Slobovia to ensure future riches because he woke-up in a bathtub of ice minus a kidney. No, this will be different. 

This "My Space" story begins during the early months of 2004, when I devised an unorthodox plan that I finally executed in December of that same year. 

On Dec. 1, I left my Air Education and Training Command Inspector General office at lunchtime, climbed into my GMC Yukon and hit the road to carry out my plan. At this point I was actively looking to occupy My Space. 

It was my first day wearing chief master sergeant stripes. I planned to drive around Randolph AFB, Texas, and park in every designated chief parking spot on the installation. 

Want to know why? The simple answer was -- because I could. But there was more to it than that. 

For years I looked at those chief parking spaces as something to be occupied only if and when I met the requirements. Once I met those requirements, I'd be able to consider each one of those spots as My Space, and could then "fill the void" whenever the situation warranted. 

I drove around the base, found a designated chief parking spot, pulled in, sat there for a few minutes, and then set out looking for another. 

Sometimes I had to wait for someone to vacate a spot, looking like a crazed parking-space stalker in the process. After nearly an hour, I had parked in all the traditional chief spots on base. Mission completed. 

I returned to my office, having done what I needed to do to illustrate what I want to share with you today. 

Everyone has designated spots in their lives. We should all be filling voids when we can and spend time driving around looking for more spots to occupy at a moment's notice. 

Some of us have the designated spaces which denote us as supervisor, worker, subject matter expert, disciplinarian, trainee, servant and hopefully, Wingman, leader and warrior as well. 

Other priority spots in our lives may be husband, wife, mommy, daddy, confidant, coach or friend. 

There is an almost endless list of spots that each of us can occupy on a daily basis. But you have to be purposeful in looking for your space, so you don't drive right by someone in need. 

Be purposeful in your daily activities -- every one of them -- and never pass up an opportunity to occupy your space, even when it isn't the fun or easy thing to do. 

In other words, don't leave your responsibilities void and hope someone else will take your spot for you. Hold yourself liable, accountable and responsible to carry out Air Force core value number one - Service Before Self -- whether on or off duty. 

Oh yeah, this works at home as well folks. Service Before Self should be a lifestyle, not a catch phrase. 

Final thought -- during my 2004 drive around I found that it was much easier to recognize the chief parking spots when they were empty. If you have vacated your spot, people who count on you to fill it will notice the emptiness. 

If you still wonder why you should park in "Your Space," my answer is simple -- because you can and because others need you to.