Commentary by Col. John Shaw
50th Operations Group commander
Yes, it’s a brand-new year, and it’s a time when many people are in full pursuit of their New Year’s resolutions, those solemn oaths we take to eliminate bad habits or to accomplish procrastination-prone tasks. Many of these heartfelt vows are then systematically broken before Groundhog Day.
So why even try? Should we really expect that we can make significant changes in our lives just by making a few promises to ourselves near the rather arbitrary start of a once-around-the-sun annual circuit? Actually, yes, I think so!
The first great opportunity that setting New Year’s resolutions affords is the chance to take a look at what’s going on in our lives and assess what change is needed to get us closer to where we think we should be. This is something we should all probably do far more often than once a year! But self-examination is actually both a rare yet vital thing for us as humans; it’s how we grow as individuals. As the Greek philosopher Plato once quoted of his mentor Socrates, “The unexamined life is not the life for man.”
After self-examination, then comes the second great opportunity — setting some goals to affect change. This provides focus of time and effort (presumably sustained for more than just a few weeks) toward a desired end.
Then comes the third opportunity — the hardest one of all — leveraging those precious, finite ticks of the new year clock to actually achieve our goals. This is the part that takes discipline, hard work, and perseverance.
What personal goals have you set for yourself in 2011? What have you discovered you want or need to do this year to get you where you want to be? Do these goals stretch across the spectrum of the mental, the physical, and the spiritual, or, as Plato would probably put it, of mind, body and soul? Whatever they are, I wish you the best of luck in achieving them.
Here’s a parallel approach — what professional New Year’s resolutions have you set for yourself this year as well? Have you had a chance to examine your roles and responsibilities in your assigned duties, and assess what you need to do to be successful, and to better contribute to Air Force mission success? The Air Force needs you, as a leader, to do this; to rephrase Plato, the unexamined Air Force duty is not the duty for an Airman. What do you need to achieve in your job, to strengthen your unit’s mission, to further develop your subordinates, or to make your successor’s job an easier and more effective one?
This year is guaranteed to be another year of great challenges for us as we strive to fly, fight and win in satellite operations. But it will also be a year of great opportunities. Taking a step back to examine your assigned duties, setting some long-term goals for progress and success, and then getting to work on them — will set you and your unit up to make the most of those opportunities and achieve mission success!