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'Brilliance in the Basics'

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Scott Maskery
  • 6th Mission Support Group deputy commander
I won the lotto! No, not that lotto -- the one where my winning ticket was permanent-change- of-station orders, assigning my family and me to the 6th Air Mobility Wing, in the larger sense to Team MacDill and the greater Tampa area. Being newly assigned to MacDill, I have what I call "new guy eyes."

New guy eyes are great from two perspectives. The first one being absolutely impressed with what we do at MacDill and how we do it, which includes how we individually and collectively take care of the Airmen (active duty, reserve, civilians, family members, and retirees), the mission and the community.

The second perspective that comes with new guy eyes is observing how things are done at MacDill as compared to my previous nine bases -- more important, compared to standards that transcend squadron patches, Air Force Specialty Codes and zip codes.
We've all probably heard the saying "when we do the little things right, we know we'll do the big things right." I call this Brilliance in the Basics. Brilliance in the Basics is just as important now as it was when you took your first oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. However, sometimes we lose focus as individuals or organizations and every once in a while we need torefocus on our Brilliance in the Basics.

Fight the cancer of complacency. Sometimes the attitude of "marking time" and "the next guy can do it" creeps in. Don't let it. Ask yourself, "Have you made it better than when you found it?" Are you a person who throws trash on the ground or do you pick it up? Did you think of two, three, or four things to improve during your tour and actually do it? Did you positively affect and influence those you work with and especially those you supervise? Do you quickly find a reason to duck into the building just as the horn sounds for the national anthem or do you stand proud and salute? Little things make a difference. When you do the little things right, you start doing the big things right. You set the example. By setting the example, you enforce the standard. Then, before you know it, you are fighting the cancer of complacency.

Get ahead to stay ahead; stay ahead to get ahead. This is more important now than ever in the world of reacting from tasker to tasker, email to email and homework assignment to homework assignment. Most but not all resources are replenishable. What we can't replenish no matter how much money we throw at the problem is time. So how do we create more of that ever-so-precious resource?
Use a proactive approach and anticipate the needs of your family, your supervisor, and your Air Force. Embrace Benjamin Franklin's quote, "Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today." My dad taught me the Five-Ps: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance and that's worked for me so far. Be proactive so you can get ahead to stay ahead, then stay ahead to get ahead.Be someone who the Air Force needs, not someone who needs the Air Force. With all the services having unprecedented retention and "waiting lists" to join our officer and enlisted ranks, being able to progress and stay within our Air Force is at the forefront of many Airmen's minds. I don't have "the answer" on how to stay in the Air Force, but here are some ideas that have worked for me and those I've seen who are successful.

Offer your leadership solutions to big and little problems. Go the extra mile to "make it right." Fix the problem when you see it and don't pass it off to the next person. Do your appropriate level of professional military education. Do your off-duty education. Pass the physical test with flying colors. Bloom where you are planted. Be positive, have a winning attitude, and create positive indicators in your life and career that make it easy for the Air Force to say, "I want that Airman on the Team," instead of "No, we don't need that Airman." Be someone who the Air Force needs, not someone who needs the Air Force.

Brilliance in the Basics should be at the forefront of your thoughts and actions, and rightfully so, from our upcoming Consolidated Unit Inspection to everyday actions that make us the premier air, space, and cyberspace force on the planet. Fight the cancer of complacency. Create time for your teammates and family members. Be someone who the Air Force needs, not someone who needs the Air Force. I'll bet my "winning lotto ticket" that if you and I have Brilliance in the Basics, we'll do great in the CUI and our Air Force will be better off every single day.