Be prepared to execute and impress each and every day

  • Published
  • By Col. Glen D. VanHerck
  • 71st Operations Group commander
During feedback sessions with troops or when I'm out and about talking with Airmen I'm often asked, "What do I need to do to get your job?" or "How do I get to be a flight commander or senior NCO?" 

My first response is normally, "Grow where you're planted." 

In simple terms -- be the absolute best at your current job, the best at what's in your current span of control, or what you are currently tasked to do, and the rest will take care of itself. 

I am a firm believer that if you do your best you will get recognized and good things will happen for you. I've had the privilege to witness it over and over for the past 21 years. 

The next question I normally receive is something along the lines of, "How do I become the best at what I do?" Well, let me offer you some simple suggestions that have worked for many troops over the years. 

First, please don't incorrectly interpret what I am saying. This is not about being the best among all your peers or co-workers. Rather, this is about being the best that you can be within the factors you control. 

The first bit of advice is to learn the expectations of your unit leadership and your supervisor. When first assigned to a new unit or new position, I highly recommend that you schedule an appointment with your supervisor or the commander and get his or her vector and expectations. 

This will help you establish priorities and it will reveal the framework within which you'll need to operate. 

Don't be timid. Supervisors should welcome this mentoring opportunity. It will make their job easier. Supervisors -- you owe it to your troops to provide them your expectations and vision. It's part of growing our troops as leaders. Take advantage of it. 

Next I suggest you get to know the unit's mission and your responsibilities that support making that mission happen. When assigned to a combat unit you will most likely have contingency or operational plans that your unit is expected to be ready to execute. 

Get to know what your unit is tasked to provide in support of those plans and more importantly -- your responsibilities. 

If your unit does not have a combat mission, like our mission here at Vance, it's just as vital that you know the mission and how you fit into it. Get to know the applicable command and local guidance that applies to your position and how that guidance impacts the mission and your responsibilities. 

By following these simple suggestions you will shine when the going gets tough. 

Next I recommend that you know all standard operating procedures for your unit. In the flying world we normally have administrative standards and in a combat unit we will have both admin and tactical standards. 

Get to know them by heart. By knowing the standards and being able to execute the mission using those standards, you will minimize required communications and greatly enhance efficiency. 

When the fog of combat sets in or chaos erupts during an exercise or after an accident, you will be able to rely on your knowledge of unit standard operating procedures. This will greatly enhance mission success and minimize operating errors. 

Take care of yourself. It's vitally important to your success both at work and off duty. Strike a balance between your physical, emotional and spiritual well being. The person that devotes too much time to work risks getting disenchanted or burned out. 

I suggest you make time to exercise, spend time with family and friends or doing whatever activities that re-charge you physically, emotionally and spiritually. By doing so you'll find that you will be much more productive and efficient at work and off duty. 

The final thing I'll leave you with is something that I was taught early in my career, and it made a lasting impression. When opportunity knocks, you need to be fully dressed. In other words, you must be prepared to execute and impress each and every day. 

During your career you will get chances to shine but you will not know when or where they will occur. Being prepared to do the job you have been asked to do today, and not worrying about what job you will have tomorrow, is vitally important. 

I feel strongly that if you follow the simple steps I've suggested you will undoubtedly grow where you're planted.