2009 – Our time to shine

  • Published
  • By Col. Chris Nowland
  • 71st Flying Training Wing commander
We have thrown clay on the potter's wheel of 2009 and while we're getting it centered, let us think about how to get the most out of this year's opportunities. 

Our priorities remain the same - mission first, taking care of ourselves and each other and being disciplined wingmen who know the rules. 

A potter looks at the spinning mound of clay from the perspective of his mission - creating a useful bowl that can serve for years. We are training the next generation of America's pilots - a job we must do to the best of our abilities. 

The secret to accomplishing the mission and doing it well is to compartmentalize and focus on one thing at a time. For both the potter and the Team Vance member studying a checklist, long-range planning is an important part of success - but it is the moment-by-moment work that actually gets the job done. 

We are working in the moment when we take the time to do the job right. It may be ensuring the safety wire is securely attached to a bolt, or taking the extra step in providing customer service to a newly-commissioned lieutenant just arriving for pilot training. 

When the potter places his hands on the spinning clay, it is important he keep them wet to prevent the clay from tearing and breaking apart. For all of Team Vance, we must keep our physical health and well-being in peak condition so the stress and pressure of preparing for the ORI and doing the day-to-day job doesn't tear or break away our abilities and motivations. 

Our fitness center offers the equipment and experts to ensure you can "keep your hands wet." From CrossFit equipment, to yoga and spin classes, there is something you can tailor to your individual drive for physical health. I expect to see each of you at the gym during 2009. 

Limit those things that distract you from the moment. Don't let yourself get too hungry, too tired or too confused. A good diet, lots of rest and tapping into the knowledge of your team mates will get you back on track. 

Keeping ourselves and each other on track is a vital element of getting the mission done and done right. We have to look after each other, both on and off duty.

As the potter keeps the wheel from spinning too fast and destroying the pot, we also must act when we see a fellow Airman about to do something that will have a bad impact on himself and those around him. Knowing the rules, and being willing to enforce the rules, is what gives a wingman value. And while it may seem a buzzkill at the moment, a strong wingman can save your career - and your life. 

Everything we do to improve ourselves and our environment increases the chance we'll produce a beautiful and functional pot from that lump of clay spinning before us. Wet your hands, focus on the moment and welcome to 2009 - our time to shine.