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It's time to focus!

  • Published
  • By Col. Robert Rocco
  • 6th Medical Group commander
 Happy birthday Airmen! This year, Airmen all over the world are celebrating our Air Force's 65th birthday. If you had the chance to attend the Air Force Ball in Tampa Sept. 29, you heard our former Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, celebrate our Airmanship culture and challenge us to continue our tradition of greatness-- to focus on mission and Airmanship.

Here is what I took from his incredible speech:
It's time to quit whining and re-emphasize a culture of winning. Our Air Force has experienced some challenging few years, with the smallest Air Force in our nation's history. We no longer have the numbers to compensate for defeatism, waste, unprofessional behavior and chronic morale-sucking whiners.

Team, we remain a nation at war and yet we complain about fitness tests, uniforms, Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century and resiliency training. We brag about our warrior culture and yet treat fellow Airmen so unprofessionally, that our very foundation has come under scrutiny by the media. And when asked to put the extra time in to prep for inspection or build a better on-base community, we instead complain for complaining sake. I remember a scene in the movie "Memphis Belle" when on their final mission the commander of the Belle (formerly stationed here at MacDill) informed his crew that they would make an unprecedented second pass over a target because "if we don't do it, someone else has to." That's a focused commander who understood winning.

How many of us routinely see a problem and walk by it assuming the next guy will handle it? Or worse, mope like someone took our lollipop instead of appreciating being fortunate enough to have a supervisor strong enough to hold us accountable? The captain of the Memphis Belle understood what was expected of him and acted accordingly. He was focused. He was a winner.

I took away an increased desire to stop thinking or asking why, to instead start saying why not. How many of us fall into the trap of individualistic thinking? When we all know a healthy team approach to duty is what any successful unit needs to be great. Don't confuse questioning the importance of mission focus with questioning expectations that may cross the ethics line. I'm talking about avoiding the lazy why-- what we sometimes ask when tasked to do something we'd prefer to avoid. Focused Airmen ask, why not. They roll up their sleeves and get the job done.

Schwartz spoke of the bravery and sacrifices made by Airmen across our wing--their "actions in challenging times." How many of us substitute an attitude of resistance when faced with challenges or worse, indifference. Focused Airmen typically have an attitude based on persistence, an all-encompassing desire to get the mission accomplished, to be successful and a focused desire to succeed.

This year, I charge you all to focus and become involved in what we do base-wide. I challenge you to shift your focus from this is my job to Airmanship is my calling. General and Mrs. Schwartz flew here from Washington, D.C., to celebrate with us. Back in the day when a four-star general was the guest speaker at an event, leaders base-wide were tripping over themselves to sign up and hear him or her speak. I saw 800 people at this year's ball. How much more exciting an event would it have been if that number were doubled or even tripled? Whiners complain about inconvenience. Winners see the opportunity. Whiners complain about work demands. Winners cherish duty obligations. Whiners wonder why. Winners wonder why not.

This year is dwindling, and 2013 is less than two months away. I challenge us all to embrace the challenges it brings. Focus on the opportunities it presents, and deliver like the warriors our nation needs us to be.

Aim high teammates. Fly, fight and win!