Commentary by Maj. Thomas A. Stratton
23rdr Space Operations Squadron, Detachment 1 commande
I’ve recently returned back to my Air Force family after serving at U.S. Central Command for two years, where I was exposed to all of our armed forces as well as many other foreign forces. I am very pleased to be back with my Air Force family and have noticed a positive change in the Air Force since my return. The Air Force is a deployable force and with that a change is occurring in the way we look at ourselves and how we do our jobs. This change is the ascendance of the thrivers.
It can be said that within the Air Force there are two basic attitudes a person can adopt, regardless of rank, assignment or Air Force specialty code. You can choose to survive or thrive. There are many examples of Airmen choosing to survive; you’ve seen this attitude.
It is when a person takes a shortcut to save time, which really just puts themselves and their wingman in jeopardy. It’s the folks that put in the least amount of effort possible, not taking the core value of excellence seriously. It’s the choice to ignore, or worse, cover up problems your wingman is having at work or home. These folks are in the Air Force simply to collect a paycheck and although their service is valued, isn’t there something missing in their lives? Don’t they and we, want and deserve to do more in life than to just survive?
Compare the survivor behaviors to those of a thriver. The thriver aggressively takes ownership of problems and solves them. They exhibit selfless dedication and loyalty to their unit and commander. They adhere to Air Force expectations and standards.
Thrivers don’t back down from taking care of each other or the places where they live. Because of this, thrivers understand they are part of something bigger than themselves and through their efforts; people far from them are able to succeed. A thriver values the Air Force, their wingman, their family and themselves and strives to improve upon all of these.
I said before that the ascendance of the thriver has occurred in the Air Force because of our transition to a deployable force. This doesn’t mean that you have to have deployed to be a thriver, nor does it mean that everyone who’s deployed is a thriver. I saw many personnel make the survivor choice while deployed. However, as a whole, the experience of deploying into rigorous environments with minimal resources and making the mission happen promotes the thriver mentality. These attitudes, which I saw while deployed, are taking root throughout the Air Force as a whole.
So, what if you have not had the opportunity to deploy? Maybe it’s been awhile since you were over there. How can we choose to thrive in the 50th Space Wing? First, begin with yourself, make sure you are healthy; ensure physical training, good nutrition and proper sleep are a part of your daily routine. When you need to, take time for your family, friends and yourself. Complete your appropriate Professional Military Education and work on a civilian degree if you so choose.
Second, take care of your job. Make sure you arrive on time and work hard to be truly excellent. This may mean you need to study a little harder or work longer than a normal duty day. Have pride in what you are doing. We are the greatest Air Force in the world and you are a part of it.
Finally, take care of each other. Embrace the wingman concept at work, at play and at home. If someone is having a problem, talk to them about it! Or talk to your chaplain or first sergeant if you don’t feel comfortable. A thriver doesn’t forget about their wingman or leave anyone behind. If one member of our Air Force Family is suffering, we all suffer as a family. Help your wingman make responsible choices and share your strengths with others, so that we can all thrive.
The Air Force is working hard every day to emerge from these challenging times as a stronger and more resilient force and you, each and every one of you, are the key to making it so. Thanks for your service and go out and thrive today.