You are worth it

  • Published
  • By Col. Keith Williams
  • 136th Airlift Wing

I have been a member of the 136th Airlift Wing for more than 30 years now. It is the only wing I’ve ever known. We have had many successes, and I can tell you the success of the wing has everything to do with the Airmen serving in it. Every Airman.

We have an important job to do in in service of our nation, in living up to the Oath of Enlistment and Oath of Office.  We must all be committed to strengthening the body, mind and soul in order to satisfy those oaths. Things will happen in our lives that requires us to seek help from others. That’s okay, that’s how life is. Please reach out for help - I need you on the team.

You matter, regardless of your career or position. Each Airman is vital to the mission and to the health of this wing. As you go through the stresses of your day, keep these things in mind: ask for help, accept stress and failure as part of growth, and give an honest effort each day.

No matter what crisis you are confronting, you don’t have to face it alone. You matter, and your team is here to help - assemble your team. This can include fellow wingmen, supervisors, family and friends, or someone from any of a number of programs designed to assist Airmen. There is not a single Airman who can exist solely on their own. We are a team and should always strive to be the best Wingman we can.

Gen. David L. Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, said, “We must take the time to listen, connect and address the issues shifting our teammates’ outlook from hopeful to hopeless. When we work on dealing with a crisis together, we share the burden.”

Ask the questions which matter and engage your fellow Airmen about what is going on in their lives. What seems insurmountable in the moment will become less severe in a few hours, days, and weeks. Asking for help is actually one of my own weaknesses, but my coworkers are amazing people who have been willing to assist and support me through the busiest period of my career.

Keep in mind that it may be enough to just be present with your fellow Airmen who are struggling. Take time to make time to get to know your Airmen.

“Not all Airmen are at the point where they actually need professional or clinical help,” said Command Chief Master Sgt. Kaleth O. Wright, Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force. “Sometimes the Airmen just need to know that you actually care about them and that you understand them and the challenges that they have.”

Failure will happen to all of us. I have had many failures, at least what I considered to be failures. I like to win, and failure feels like losing. It makes me feel unworthy, like I haven’t measured up. But it’s a part of growth, and overcoming adversity is an important part of being human.

To cope, I focus on one thing at a time and recognize it as an opportunity for growth. If we are thoughtful and deliberate about the immediate actions we take, if we focus on what we have control over, and not about what we can’t control, it will help in dealing with a crisis.

A helpful prayer in times of crisis is the serenity prayer. “Give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Part of the way I cope with my failures is that I own them. I take responsibility. I do my best not to blame others for my failings, which can be hard to do when you’re human. I have to be honest with myself and accept my failures for what they are.

When I learn and grow from that failure, it feels good to know I overcame it and turned the situation into a success. It is very satisfying to see my success after being stretched to the limit. A lesson I learned over and over in my career is that allowing myself to be stretched is the best way to grow.

We must accept that if our Airmen fail, that is ok. Chief Wright said, “Leading with compassion is the new best practice.” We are all human - we have to accept each other’s flaws and failings. We’re going to have good days and bad.

Try to understand the other person rather than passing judgement. If we accept them at their worst, we will enjoy the advantages when they are at their best. As Chief Wright said, “Help your teammates get past, over and through, and you’ll win their trust and their heart.”

Finally, give an honest effort every day. I treat every day as a chance to prove my worth, which puts me in a state of always striving to be better - a better Wingman and leader. This includes serving other Airmen. As a leader and fellow Airman, I serve others by being willing to do the jobs others won’t.

In giving an honest effort, we must pay attention to physical and mental fitness to cope with the stresses of each day. This requires us to build balance into our life between work, family and individual time. I have done this in my own career, foregoing career opportunities to care for family and personal needs.

As you grow through your efforts, you will find hard work gets you noticed. When you get recognition for success, share the credit – we’re all in this together.

We will face adversity as we maneuver our way through school, jobs, relationships and family matters. It will sometimes take help from others to get life back in balance when things get knocked out of whack by life events. Every Airman in the Wing has a purpose, which is embodied in the oath we all take. Our greatest strength will be found in asking for help when we need it … before things can get worse. Please use all of the resources at your disposal to be as happy, productive and healthy as you can be.