Commentary by Lt. Col. Jennifer Reeves
50th Operations Group deputy commander
When was the last time you looked in the mirror and thought, “I look good!”? When was the last time you looked deep inside yourself and thought, “I have done my absolute best today and I am good!”?
Both of these questions are relevant to each one of us as the 50th Space Wing stares down the barrel of the upcoming Consolidated Unit Inspection. I challenge you to consider these notions, but in this order: Be good first, then focus on looking good.
In this world, we are all inundated and perhaps influenced by a whole lot of “flash:” Housewives of this, Park Avenue of that, Fill-in-the-Blank with the Stars, The Blank Family, famous for just being famous, and so much more. This fame, or perhaps notoriety, without much reason for it other than getting noticed, has become mainstream and accepted by many in our society. I propose that this has changed what commands our focus: flash rather than substance, sound bytes rather than issues, window dressing rather than reality. Our energy is often wasted on these superficialities.
This seems to paint a rather grim picture. Should one never focus on making something appear appealing? Absolutely not. As everyone knows, for example, when you see that plate of delicious-looking food, it whets your appetite. How we look as individuals is what attracts our mates to us. How a house looks can make you fall in love with it. How something looks matters significantly. However, if those looks are deceiving and the substance or reality is not lined up with how it looks, you will likely be sorely disappointed. You will be even more disappointed if those good looks actually caused you to raise your expectations.
So it comes back to this order. What must happen first is to focus on substance, and once that is worked to an appropriate level, then focus on polishing and making it look good.
And this brings us back to the 50th Space Wing. Why does this lesson matter to you? There is no one in this wing who will not be affected by the upcoming inspection. Whether you’re a squadron commander, a wing-level program manager, a superintendent or the newest Airman in a five-person detachment, you will feel the effects. You may be one of the lucky ones chosen to present your hard work to one of more than 100 inspectors slated to come visit us after Thanksgiving. You will definitely be part of the wing’s three-month ramp-up process where we focus on ensuring our processes are aligned with the orders provided to us in Air Force Instructions and other higher-level guidance. The Air Force gives us all guidance based in the context of law and it is incumbent on us as professionals to follow that guidance.
And so, I implore you, as we work through the next three months together, reviewing the many, many programs we run, are part of, and comply with; focus first on substance, being good, and only then focus on looking good. As they see our program binders, the inspectors will look forward to reviewing our programs and we’ll back up our promises with real substance. As Muhammad Ali said many times, “I’m gonna show you how great I am.” If we follow the formula, we’ll have no problem showing the IG how great we are in December!