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Making Time for Your Airmen

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Mazzone
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing command chief
Editor's note: Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Mazzone is now the 2nd Bomb Wing command chief, Barksdale Air Force Base, La.

No matter how often somebody states that time goes quickly, and to make the most of the time you have, generally speaking people tend not to consider those statements with much seriousness. I've been an Airman for almost 24 years. Yet it seems like yesterday I was standing in the airport saying goodbye to my family, on my way to Basic Military Training. My time in the Air Force has flown by like an F-22 Raptor past the Wright Flyer, and today I find myself wondering "Where did it all go?" I mention this so you'll understand why I chose this topic for my last article in the Thunderbolt; make the best of the time you have!

Too often we look back at an event or situation and wish for more time. It's in our nature to scrutinize ourselves and figure out how we could have done things different or better. Subsequently, we tend to make excuses about how little time we had. I wish I would have paid attention to the people who told me "there will never be enough time, so place value in the precious amount you have". Instead, I've had to learn the hard way like a lot of others. It's imperative we remember this as we move to positions of leadership. Our Airmen are pulled in several directions; forced to wrestle with life's demands. So much is asked of them and they continually deliver solid results, but at what cost? Quite often they're sacrificing time with family and friends, or other opportunities in life, to keep up with what leaders ask of them.

It's important for leaders at all levels to take a hard look at what we have our Airmen doing. Don't do a "touch and go" and hope things will magically become better just because you showed your face in the work center. Instead, ask questions to find out what a day in the life of your Airmen is like. Allow them the opportunity, on their turf, to explain some of the things taking up their time. You may be surprised at what you hear. Aside from their daily tasks, they have numerous other requirements competing for their time, including the multitude of mobility and ancillary training events we're expected to maintain. This may be the perfect opening for you to provide some mentoring on time management and organizational skills. Or, you may learn about a "requirement" that doesn't make sense and is begging to be deleted.

Accomplishing your unit's mission will always be a priority. Leaders should provide Airmen with their expectations, enable help them to maintain their training and readiness, and still give them sufficient time to regenerate. It's our responsibility to look for "time traps" and keep our Airmen from falling victim to them. This doesn't come easy. It takes communication at all levels and ironically it also takes time. In my opinion, Airmen of all ranks are grateful for these efforts. In turn, the mission is accomplished more safely and efficiently, and our Airmen are afforded the opportunity to spend time doing the things that make them happy, while simultaneously allowing them to reset for the next task.

As you read this, I'll be signing in to my new duty station. I'll remember many things about MacDill Air Force Base, but above all I'll remember the amazing people with whom I served. Thank you for your professionalism, and for making my tour memorable. I had a great "time"!