First, finest -- for the new year

  • Published
  • By Lt Col Janice Wallace
  • 71st Medical Operations Squadron
As we enter the new year it's time to reflect on where we have been, what we have accomplished and what our course of action for the next year should be.
For example; many of us have officially stated our New Year's resolution; to lose weight, exercise more and to lead a healthier lifestyle.
Will this year be like so many others ... we determine our goals and by March have lost the vision and the inclination to follow through with what we've started? Just as we, as individuals, take this time to re-examine our personal goals and motivations, we need to take a close look at what motivates our organizations.
Vision and values are a must for any person or organization that desires success as a long-term goal. In the last few years, companies like Enron, World Com and Inclone have proven what can happen when we have a vision without values. In contrast, organizations with strong values but lacking vision will eventually stagnate and lose relevancy for its members. Studies have shown that organizations that focus on values and vision perform better than those that do not, they enjoy a higher level of staff loyalty and attract the best and the brightest. The purpose of values is to guide our actions and decisions, but they are simply words unless we actually live by them. Our vision is a mental image of desired future goals. A vision should have a compelling aspect that inspires, motivates and engages the members within the organization.
Incorporating our values and vision I immediately focus on two words "first" and "finest."
I consider "first" as a mindset; to be pioneers ... trendsetters rather than followers. We in the military services are at the tip of the spear, the cutting edge in our thinking and our action. We need to be leaders and mentors among professionals. One must admit being a leader, the driving force responsible for others, can be scary but we need to feel the fear, use it to our advantage and press forward. Fear is a great immobilizer. What if the mind set in our military forces was, "No one else is doing that," or "I don't have enough time." Do you think we would have the strongest military services in the world that we have today?
A mindset of "first" allows us to be innovative and motivated problem solvers. Find a need and fill it with creative, original ideas. A mindset of being first allows us to be strategic thinkers focusing on a greater vision while permitting us to adjust to a variety of external factors. A mindset of first is a talent that will challenge us to expand beyond what is expected, that will encourage us to take risks and demand we take on additional responsibilities. It will turn barriers into opportunities and ensure that we never settle with the way things are. A mindset of "first" will always lead us to a bright future.
The second word "finest." Being the finest is an expectation. It requires us to set our standards high and to take action. We must strive to be the best we can in every part of our lives. Each of us must endeavor to be the finest personally before we can expect our organization to be the finest. Each one of us must pay attention to our business, the business of being the finest. We have to be intolerant of complacency and low standards. We must walk the talk. We compromise our right to say we are the finest when we settle for mediocre behavior and performance. What we expect becomes our standard, no matter how we have defined it.
"First and finest" must be grounded into our actions. Remembering how others perceive us will affect how they interact with us and whether or not they support us. Strive always to be the best and let the core values guide your actions and decisions. Beliefs in limits create limited people. So face the future with hope, not fear, and look forward to a change in yourself and the final vision.