Be fit, be firm, be fair, have fun – a Chief’s guide for success

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Derek Madison
  • 71st Medical Group superintendent
I entered the Air Force when I was 19 years old as an airman basic and learned early on that success was achievable. I learned, and put into practice, four simple attributes that helped me get to where I am now. Be fit, be firm, be fair and most importantly -- have fun.

Be Fit. Being fit is more than going to the gym and sculpting a chiseled physique. Although being physically fit is paramount to the profession of arms, I chose to incorporate the elements of the Comprehensive Airman Fitness model. This practice includes fitness in mental, physical, social and spiritual areas. I strengthened my mental fitness by completing various educational goals such as CCAF, bachelors and masters degrees, attending and completing all enlisted levels of PME and reading books. My physical fitness comes from eating healthy foods and exercising regularly. The social aspect comes from my interaction with family, subordinates, superiors and peers. I make it a priority to learn something from someone every day. As a Christian, my spiritual fitness comes from my faith in God and my belief that there is something greater than I.

Be Firm. Being firm in my establishment and maintenance of standards has served me well. For the last 24 years, the Air Force Core Values have helped me become a good follower, leader and ultimately a good Airman. I'm an avid proponent of following the rules and holding people accountable for deviating from established standards. I strive to be consistent in this area so people know where I stand.

Be Fair. Webster defines fair as: "free from bias, dishonesty, or injustice." I try very hard, when making decisions, to use these attributes as my compass. I think people appreciate and respect you more if you're making decisions based on the information and/or facts presented not personal thoughts or feelings.

Have Fun. Life is short and your military career will fly by at the speed of sound. Who wants to be around a miserable person that is all work and no play? You have to be able to strike a balance. That means having fun while accomplishing the mission, making time for your family to decompress and enjoying life's simple joys along the way.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts, enjoy the ride and Godspeed!