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Excellence in All We Do presents biggest core-value challenge

  • Published
  • By Maj. Benjamin Retzinger
  • 6th Maintenance Operations Squadron commander
Of the three Air Force Core Values, "Excellence in All We Do" is the hardest for me personally. How can I perform to the level of "excellent" in all that I do? Webster's dictionary defines excellence as "the quality of being excellent" - not much help, thanks Webster. Does "Excellence In All We Do" mean I should not try something if I'm not going to be the best? 

For me, "Excellence" is not a comparison such as good, better or best but a grade of my effort. Excellence is about doing the most that I can to achieve a set goal. As individuals, we decide who and what defines excellence for each thing we do. In the same activity, individuals may have different definitions for excellence. For an endurance runner, excellence may be defined by coming in first, while for others, simply crossing the finish line is excellence. 

Two weeks ago the 6th Air Mobility Wing wowed inspectors with the high level of performance we achieved. We proved that we are fully capable of performing the tasks set before us in accordance with all applicable guidance and directives. During the inspection, we achieved Excellence but that was merely a snapshot in time. Our ongoing dedication to excellence determines how long that snapshot is preserved or how quickly it fades. It would be easy to rest on our achievements of this month or even the past few years; but we must not, our country is depending on each and every one of us. 

We have an even more difficult road ahead of us. How will America's best Wing continue to function at this level? I say the answer is constant vigilance. We must stay focused on the processes and programs that got us here. Hitting a bulls-eye once does not make one an excellent marksman. To consistently hit the bulls-eye, a marksman must practice, take care of their equipment and prepare for the next challenge. 

In addition, we face a challenge common to the Air Force. Many members of our team will be transferring to new bases, units or positions. Turnover is a constant in the Air Force and we must address it in our strive for excellence. When the next fight arrives, we will not have the team members we had two weeks ago. How well we execute that next battle depends on how well we prepare their replacements today. Vince Lombardi framed it best with "Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence."