Commentary by Lt. Col. Vincent Fisher
50th Security Forces Squadron commander
As I thought about what to write about for this week’s paper, I realized the importance of the message that I send to readers. So, I wanted to give you a leader’s perspective on priorities. Priorities are those things that are important to us. We prioritize goals, tasks, and thoughts in order to live organized and successful lives. The Air Force and even the 50th Space Wing has set priorities for Airmen. The number one priority for the 50th Space Wing is “Flawless Operations.” My unit, like yours, has established priorities and goals to achieve flawless operations in support of the wing’s mission. It’s important to have priorities because they give you direction and focus, allowing you to direct the available resources to the most important tasks. In military organizations, priorities keep everyone focused on what’s important for the entire unit to accomplish the mission.
My uncle once asked me a question, and at the time, I thought it was funny but it really helped me understand the importance of setting priorities in your life. We were fishing in Mississippi and had been fishing all day with no hope of catching dinner. We drifted under a tree on the river. As the boat slowly passed a low hanging branch. My uncle asked me what I would do if a water moccasin fell in the boat. So, without thinking, I told him that I would shoot it! Then he said, “Well, now you have a hole in the boat. What would you do next?” Again, I provided the wisest answer that a 12 year old could provide. I said that I’d jump out of the boat and swim to shore. My Uncle quickly responded by showing me an alligator basking on the shore on the other side of the river. Then he asked, “What do you do now?” Well, by now, I started to figure out his game so I responded that I would try to plug the hole in the boat with my fishing pole. Then without hesitation, my uncle said, “Well, then we couldn’t fish!” He taught me to always have a plan and figure out what’s most important for the problem at hand.
I know that was a little corny but it showed me even as a little boy that first, I wasn’t as smart as my uncle; and second, that I needed to do a better job of looking at situations and thinking through my priorities to find a solution. Relating to my fishing story, as a young boy I was presented with a problem and approached it with a hasty response rather than thinking it through for the best solution. Whether you are prioritizing goals for a project at work or for life, take the time to set in order what’s important for you to be successful. Sure, priorities will change depending on the circumstances that life moves your way; marriage, children, and job changes — all give you an opportunity to reevaluate your priorities. Through the years, I have counseled many people and have asked most of them if they had priories or goals in life. Believe me, I’ve heard it all. Some folks even say that they just live life and let whatever happens comes their way. That’s fine and really they have set their priorities without knowing that they are really making themselves number one. Even though we are all busy, it’s important to take time to set your priorities and find what matters most in your life. Your commander has set priorities for your unit, find out what they are and work hard to focus your actions in support of those priorities.
Ok, I know you are wondering if I just let my uncle off the hook. Well, I just couldn’t let his last bit of wise counsel go, so I asked my uncle…Sir, what would you do if a snake fell in the boat!? He looked over to me and said with a smile, “Son, I would pray that the snake got out of the boat, then the alligator would come eat the snake, and then I would shoot the alligator and have your aunt cook it up!” Yeah, I know, corny but as my article hits the newsstand and websites across the command, remember, priorities mean nothing unless you act on them. So, whether it is faith, family or numero uno…don’t let anything or anyone take you away from spending time on what’s important in your life and/or to your organization.