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Family, mission, fun

Lt. Col. Troy Henderson, 8th Flying Training Squadron commander.

Lt. Col. Troy Henderson, 8th Flying Training Squadron commander.

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Commander's priorities - something every Airman hears from the first day an officer assumes command of a squadron, group or wing to the day he or she relinquishes that command and another officer takes the reigns.

To the average junior lieutenant or enlisted airman these priorities may seem politicized or redundant. You might think, "This lieutenant colonel or that colonel is trying to get promoted," but I am here to tell you that commanders choose their priorities based on their own personal mistakes and revelations.

I believe the greatest lessons are learned thru experiencing failures. If you listened to my story during the most recent Wingman Day you know that unfortunately, I have had more opportunities to learn from failures than the average bear.

My priorities as the leader of the 8th Flying Training Squadron are Family, Mission and Fun. I arrived at those priorities based on mistakes I made in the past and revelations that have come to me when I look back on those experiences. They are priorities that helped me become a resilient Airmen, and I believe they can help you to.

Like a majority of military members, I am very committed to creating a good first impression, and early on in my career, I made the mistake of making that impression on the shoulders of my family.

I spent endless hours at work to ensure I was available on the off chance that someone would fallout of an upgrade sortie. This took its toll on me and my relationship.

Fortunately for the Air Force, I was really good at compartmentalizing problems at home and problems at work, therefore my job performance didn't suffer at least not at the time. If you recall my Wingman Day monologue, you know that Thanksgiving of 2013 was the final straw.

Each of us has a different tolerance dealing with adversity at home and still maintaining optimum performance in the workplace, my objective is to ensure I never get to that point again by applying preventive maintenance.

I worked through my problems at home and therefore improved my performance at work by practicing preventive maintenance.

Preventive maintenance means taking the time you need or more importantly, the time your family needs to ensure you don't have a catastrophic failure.

So how does this tie in to my leadership priorities?
1. Mission: The security of knowing your family is well maintained improves your commitment to the Mission. Long hours, missed events and zero control over your schedule are unavoidable in today's military; however those family stressors aren't potential powder kegs if they know you are committed to their well-being.

2. Family: Prior to deployments the painful mandatory checklists and briefings stress us to ensure our families are solid, so we don't have to worry when we are downrange. I ask you to apply those same principles before you leave for work each morning.

The military allots members 30 days of leave each year, and we need to use it wisely and judiciously. Your organization WILL manage with you gone, because that is how we are raised to operate. The majority of us do not want our spouses, children, parents, brothers or sisters to seek replacements to fill the void if we are gone from them.

3. Fun: It is a leader's priority to ensure the work environment is free of hostility and a place where individuals are valued for their contributions. Fun is providing opportunities for your workers to blow off steam and socialize with co-workers, family and friends. Those who have more than one assignment under their belt will attest that the people make or break an assignment.

The people and camaraderie are what retirees and those who separate miss about the military. I ask you to be open to meeting new people and forming relationships with both your co-workers and within the community outside the gates.

Fun is ultimately dependent on you, the individual choosing to take advantage of the opportunities presented and/or create opportunities where you want them.

Each Airman supports our Wing's mission of Develop, Deliver and Deploy ... a resilient Airman has even more impact because they do it consistently.