Friday, July 24, 2015

COMMENTARY >> Commitment, pride, discipline: Staples of the profession

By Col. Charles Bolton
314th Operations Group commander

These three words (commitment, pride, discipline) are staples of our military profession, but do we actually understand and live them each day? 

As Airman, we must exhibit these in every facet of what we do. Without them, there is nothing setting us apart from the rest of society. 

Commitment. Our society’s sense of commitment is waning. Permanence has been subtracted from our definition of commitment. Instead, we have replaced it with the amount of willpower an individual is willing to put forth in a given situation. 

This new definition of commitment may work for someone not wearing a uniform, someone ready to change his or her beliefs for convenience, someone ready to throw away important things in life for comfort or pleasures’ safe, or someone who runs away from tough situations and looks for the easy way out. However, for those of us in the military, we do not have that luxury of cheapening commitment. Our wingman, our coworkers and our peers count on us to do what you are supposed to do…all the time. 

Gen. George Patton Jr. once said, “I am a soldier, I fight where I am told, and I win where I fight.” That is commitment. Sometimes, we need to be reminded that we are still at war and maintaining a high ops tempo. Although our nation may be fighting about budgets, elections, etc., we have to focus on the mission at hand. That means constantly working to better yourself and the mission, no matter the difficulty we face. 

What does commitment mean to you? Does it mean, “I’ll see something through to the end, no matter the cost”; or does it mean, “I’ll do something, but only until it no longer benefits me, or gets too hard for me to handle”? 

Commitment starts with taking pride in the fact you are a member of our nation’s greatest profession, the profession of arms. 

Pride. Pride exhibits itself in many ways: through the uniform, physical appearance, customs and courtesies and work ethic. I have been in organizations that were on the brink of failure due to the lack of pride. I witnessed that same organization go from the bottom to the top when they began to take pride in everything they did and said. Our core values ask for excellence and you can only get that by being committed and taking pride in everything you do. 

John Stuart Mill, the English philosopher, once said, “A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.” 

When you do not care about what you are doing, it shows. The sad part about is, someone else has to pick up your slack. So look around and use opportunities to boost pride. Thank people for what they do. Coach, teach and mentor our young Airmen. Moreover, be a good example. How can we expect to see pride, if we do not show pride? 

Discipline. Commitment and pride are born out of discipline. Discipline involves abiding by standards whether you like them or not. It means taking personal responsibility to do what is right (even when no one is watching) and not whining about it. Today, there is this natural tendency to complain or argue about what we believe to be right or wrong. Imagine how productive we could be if we got committed to standards and stopped spending time dwelling on policies or issues we may not like. Our mental and physical ability to tackle any situation will be enhanced through the discipline we exhibit in our daily tasks and will better prepare us to take care of the mission, as well as each other. 

We marvel at the discipline involved with professional athletes, but do we exhibit the same discipline it takes to be the professionals we are supposed to be? Think about that the next time your stomach hurts on a run, the next time you have to get up at 5:30 a.m. for PT, or after working a 14-16 hour day. Remember we do it for a reason; to protect the freedoms we enjoy each day and ensure others can enjoy them as well. It takes commitment, pride and discipline from each individual Airman to guarantee we can keep the freedoms we cherish.

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