Tackling adversity and change

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Craig Lambert
  • 81st Medical Support Squadron commander
We have accomplished much in life and the Air Force that makes us proud.

We have quarterly and annual awards, promotions, excellent inspections results, outstanding personal achievements and many more accomplishments that highlight a successful career.

However, we also face occasional setbacks when we do not perform as we wanted or planned. This does not happen often but it will happen.

We encounter many changes throughout a career. Think about those you have encountered just since Basic Military Training or initial entry into officer training. Some changes we see coming and others come as a surprise, but either way you will encounter them while a part of the Air Force team. How we react to these difficulties and changes is the true test in life and in the Air Force. I believe the spirit and dedication of the true Air Force leader, warrior and wingman comes out when faced with adversity and change.

Adversity tests our ability to bounce back from failures. My recommendation is to face the struggle head on - whether it's a physical training test failure or a sub-par outcome on a project. Analyze what went wrong, develop a plan and then re-execute. You can't get bogged down in the struggle or only focus on the end result. A new chance to excel is always at hand. Recognize misfortunes for what they are - new chances to perform at even higher levels.

Opportunities exist for us every day to make decisions and try something new or different. Don't miss out on those opportunities. In fact, football coach Lou Holtz once said, "Show me someone who has done something worthwhile and I'll show you someone who has overcome adversity."

When we encounter struggles, we must seek others for guidance. This is why we all need mentors and have supervisors and leaders around us. More than likely, others have faced what you are facing before. Learn from those who have been there before. Seek guidance from your mentors because that could very well be the key to your next success.

A big part of everyone's job is to be a good wingman and we count on wingmen to get the mission accomplished. A formal mentor is not always needed, but instead reach out to the successful Airman you aspire to emulate.

Though mentors are important, we must also constantly focus on preparation.
Being prepared and practicing usually improves performance. Little things make a big difference. Most folks are prepared for the big things in life - however, winners work at the little things.

As a famous coach once said, "If a man is a quitter, I'd rather find out in practice than in a game. I ask for all a player has so I will know what I can expect." Practice is important and preparation is vital to ensure the little things are not missed.
Additionally, the one constant in life is change. This change can provide adversity but it can also provide wonderful opportunities.

This time of year, we have changes of command, retirements, separations and military moves. These opportunities for new insight and direction can make organizations even stronger.

We have been faced with many recent changes like financial constraints and limitations that we may have never faced since joining the Air Force. We have to work with the change and embrace new and innovative solutions. The old solutions will not be the solutions for the future. Creative ideas and innovations will have to come from all Airmen to ensure the Air Force and Keesler remain the best.

Dealing with change can be stressful and overwhelming. View change as a process instead of a one-time action. Any new process or change must start with setting achievable goals and monitoring for success. Goal setting gets everyone on the same page and allows the team to rally around a common purpose. We must consistently follow through with tracking and accountability. The stress of change can be minimized with looking at the process and celebrating milestones along the way.

We will be faced with adversity and change - it is unavoidable. Don't fight it, embrace it. A positive attitude can go a long way in overcoming a setback or a change.
According to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

Adversity and change make us who we are both as a person and as an organization. We have many challenges to face head on right now - sexual assaults, financial constraints, staff reductions, furloughs, etc. We are the world's best Air Force at the world's best Air Force base. I can think of no better team than the one assembled here at Keesler to overcome adversity and thrive with upcoming changes. Our great country and the mission are both counting on us.