We all want to be inspired

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Vincent Sullivan III
  • 333rd Training Squadron
 As people, we all want to be inspired.  We want to be in the midst of great men and women and be inspired by their greatness. 

Every generation has those iconic figures that people look up to. The 60's and 70's had Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Neil Armstrong, economist Milton Friedman, and special effects wiz George Lucas.  The 80's had President Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates.  The 90's and 2000's had Michael Jordan, President Bill Clinton, and Nelson Mandela.  Some look further back, back to our founding fathers and other historical figures for inspiration. 

All of these inspirational figures have one thing in common; they inspired people around the world to accomplish more than anyone thought possible.  These pioneers dared to be great, pushed the envelope and advanced society.  From changing our social context to landing on the moon to fighting racial oppression and re-uniting the country these leaders have identified issues that changed and pushed the world forward for a better future.  For me, my father was my inspiration. 

Leaders such as the ones listed above inspired and continue to inspire people throughout the world, but how are we inspired in the U.S. Air Force?

As Airmen, we all aspire to secure our nation's ideals such as freedom, liberty, and to protect our countries way of life by defending our nation against all enemies foreign and domestic.   We have all been inspired by someone to lead a life greater than our own.  

The Air Force is hungry for something, but what is it?  I believe it is the thought of being part of something larger than ourselves; our oath of office, the profession of arms, the Airman's Creed, and our core values.  All of these things give us a foundation and vision of how we want our Air Force to be.

Striving to be the ultimate Airman and supporting our global mission is the essence of serving in the Air Force. 

Gen. George Patton once stated, "Never tell people how to do things.  Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity." 

We all want direction, not micro-management.  That is a challenge we face today with all the Defense Department and Air Force instructions and manuals, forms, operating instructions and guidance memorandums that tell us how to do it  and what to do. 

We need to get away from this line of thinking and realize the real power we have.  We need to realize that Airmen are inspired when we talk about what our mission is, and allow them the opportunity to invest their talents into situations and processes.  Airmen are able to innovate and overcome obstacles when given the opportunity.  This is possible when we empower our Airmen to be great, tell them why we are doing or need something, rather than tell them how or what to do.

Every Airman is capable of accomplishing more than they ever thought possible when we focus on why we are in the Air Force..  The Air Force builds Airmen capable of the impossible because we challenge and empower our people at all levels to innovate, adapt, and challenge the norms. 

Our senior leaders are empowering us all to take calculated risks in programs, reduce redundancy, and optimize our Air Force.  This is a shift we have all been waiting for, the opportunity to do less with less.
We can't hold back this change by believing in our biases, fears, or the cynical nature of "it won't happen like all the other times."  We have to believe in our senior leader's new vision, as we all bring our unique viewpoints and qualities to the table so the Air Force can change and grow.  Trust is easily lost, but this time we need to trust our leaders through our faith in our core values of integrity, service before self and excellence in all we do, I know they will lead us to the Air Force we all want.

The Air Force needs us all to be outstanding Airman; to solve our problems and think critically so that we can transform our service into what we all know it should be.  Through our Airman's framework, asking "why" and inspiring others through your stories it will be possible. 

We also need to understand, trust, and execute our senior leader's direction, so we can lead our outstanding Airmen from the front.  Most importantly, in the front is where we will inspire our Airmen and Air Force to new heights never before believed possible.