Commentary by Lt. Col. Chadwick Igl
3rd Space Operations Squadron commander
As one of the newest squadron commanders at Schriever Air Force Base, I wanted to take a moment to share a message that I feel is important to every Airman, officer and civilian here. Each of us begins the day with the same opportunity to excel.
One way I try to excel is by treating every day as if I am preparing for a job interview. The reason is obvious. I want to make a great impression every day. As I have matured in the Air Force, I’ve tried to apply three key practices to every “job interview,” and we can practice them in our jobs to guarantee success, regardless of the endeavor.
First, build islands of excellence. Next, be competent in your job. Lastly, make a positive difference. They are all simple; yet, if you apply these three practices every day, I believe you can not only guarantee new and more challenging opportunities, but will continue to excel in all you do. Let me expand on each.
We have all heard the expression, “There’s only one chance to make a first impression.” I truly believe the Air Force Core Value, “Excellence In All We Do,” encourages each of us to embrace the opportunity to make a great first impression. I believe it begins with the image that you present, the manner you conduct yourself, and the quality of work you complete when you volunteer or are tasked to take on a project or activity. One of my mentors highlighted what this meant to him with the concept of building “Islands of Excellence.”
An island of excellence is something that each of you, and you alone, control. What is your “Island of Excellence” and what is the first impression people have of you? Your island may be how clean or how cluttered your desk or cubicle is. Some of you know that a clean desk is not one of my strongest attributes. But — I’m working on it! My point is that if your desk or cubicle is clean and organized, people will notice. You also have the opportunity to build an island of excellence with every task that you complete and present to your peers or leadership. If the task you are working on is completed to perfection, your leadership will notice and know they can rely on you to complete a task on time and to perfection. In the same respect, if you fail to complete the task or put in minimal effort to complete the task, your leadership will know they can’t count on you to get the job done correctly. Have you built an island of excellence that everyone notices? Your goal should also be to encourage those around you to build their own island of excellence. As these “islands” emerge, the goal is to build a “continent” everyone knows is built upon the excellence that each member contributes to the team. That is one of my goals in 3rd Space Operations Squadron, to be recognized across the wing as a “continent” of excellence where each and every member of 3 SOPS is proud to say they contributed to the squadron being recognized for excellence.
Possessing the skill, knowledge or qualifications to perform a job should be apparent to the interviewer. To accomplish the mission of delivering global combat effects, each of us must demonstrate skill knowledge, proficiency and technical knowledge. In the military, one must be competent in their job before they can lead. I challenge the members of my squadron to prove they are truly system experts through training, attention to detail and understanding how we deliver combat effects to the warfighter. At the 50th Space Wing, this applies to every job. The reason is that in knowledge lies strength. In a job interview, you must demonstrate expertise in your chosen profession or you likely won’t even make it to the discussion of how you could contribute. Your best weapon is your mind; thus, exercising that weapon to continue to grow your competence, as well as execute the mission will ensure that you don’t let your legacy be “missed opportunities.”
Additionally, I think it is important during a job interview to ask someone how they will make a positive difference in the job they are trying to obtain. A question to ask yourself every day is “Have I made a positive difference today to the mission, unit or someone I work with?” As our Air Force draws down in a fiscally constrained environment, the way in which each of us makes a difference requires us to be creative and innovative. In other words, we do not have the luxury of solving problems by increasing manpower or budget.
The integrated operations environment we are pursuing to create synergies in military satellite communications operations represents an innovative way to meet warfighter needs while adapting to a more contested space environment. While I cannot promise I will make a positive difference in the mission, unit or with my people every single day, I will promise to do everything I am capable of to make a difference. If I am successful, then I will have raised the bar, which I live by. Each of us is responsible for a critical piece of the mission and making a difference will ensure that you don’t lower the bar, but rather raise it for yourself, the unit or even the wing.
During the course of my career I have served in many jobs. I was a prior-enlisted finance technician, worked interagency at the Department of Energy, was a congressional liaison and served at the Pentagon, major command and many base level jobs. Whether or not I realized it, each job was an interview for the next and I believe if you strive to build ‘Islands of Excellence,’ improve your competence and make a positive difference, you can epitomize the Air Force core value of “Excellence In All We Do” and be recognized for the contributions you make. You may never know when you will be “hired” and be given another opportunity to continue making a difference or contribute to an endeavor that will make a positive contribution to the Air Force and the nation.
Are you ready for your next job interview?