Never give up - bring attitude and confidence to the fight

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- How can you not be impressed with our American Olympic athletes! Their talent and skills are simply awesome. They have practiced and trained for years and years. 

Their stories are replete with 5 a.m. wake-ups, three-a-day practices, non-traditional schooling, extended stays away from home, family and friends, and the list of personal sacrifices goes on and on. 

Even with the endless hours of practice, their success still often boils down to two simple attributes that differentiates between winning the gold medal and going home as a runner-up -- attitude and confidence. 

To me, the similarities between our athletes and our military brethren currently in contact with the enemy are obvious. Our troops are extremely well trained, have made countless personal sacrifices to perfect their craft, and of course, endure lengthy family separations. But eventually the similarities end. 

The stage on which our troops operate is not televised, does not have the fanfare of fireworks and musical scores, and the consequences of not performing to expectations is often devastating, even fatal for themselves and their teammates. 

Let's be clear, this article is not to drum up sympathy for our military, and it equally is not to take anything away from our national athletes. It is to draw parallels for our own motivation as the defenders of this amazing country. 

Our training is simply the best in the world. But, as with our athletes, to realize success, our training is inextricably tied to the attitude and confidence that we bring to the fight.
In the 3rd Fighter Training Squadron, we have a few simple charges for our students. One of them is to "never give up." This is a character trait we want them to carry to their next step of training in their weapon system and ultimately to combat. 

We teach our students a specific skill set, but we also teach them just how to use attitude and confidence to their advantage. So when they meet a foe at the merge, even if his equipment and training is comparable, our graduates will draw on their attitude and confidence to remain calm and draw from their character to find their advantage. 

I found a few quotes that have been used by a worldly cast of characters that illustrate the importance of attitude and confidence in success: 

"Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier." -- Colin Powell 

"If I have lost confidence in myself, I have the universe against me." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson 

"Getting ahead in a difficult profession requires avid faith in yourself. That is why some people with mediocre talent, but with great inner drive, go much further than people with vastly superior talent." -- Sophia Loren

"You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through." -- Rosalynn Carter 

"Concentration comes out of a combination of confidence and hunger." -- Arnold Palmer 

Take pride in the opportunity you have to serve the best Air Force and the best military the world has ever known. Our responsibility is more far-reaching and influence more global than any military force has ever known. 

You face challenges unknown to our forefathers. Make sure that you keep your skills sharp and from that, draw the confidence and positive attitude to have your "A-game" when you're in the finals. Then, when the gun sounds, leave it all on the track. 

Our American athletes are great. And you know what -- our military members are great too.