Commentary by Jeffery Hunt
50th Space Wing director of staff
Recently, I found myself watching the most recent “Star Trek” movie again. Do you ever have a moment when something just sticks in your mind and you can’t let it go? Well, there was a point near the beginning of the movie when Capt. Christopher Pike is talking to James T. Kirk in a local bar after breaking up a fight between Pike’s cadets and Kirk. In their discussion you could surmise that Pike was attempting to mentor Kirk to achieve more than what he had done so far in life. Kirk asked if he was done mentoring Kirk and Pike stated, yes he was done but he continued by saying that Kirk’s father had saved more than 800 people including his wife and his son James T. Kirk. He challenged Kirk by saying; “I dare you to do better.”
For some odd reason, I started thinking about that statement and its applicability. I look back on my life and I remember that in January and February 1981 when I was working as a manager for the El Paso Times, I was groveling in self-pity. After six years of doing that job and attending college part time, I knew there was something better for me so I dared myself to do it. There were numerous challenges I had to overcome (another story) but I quit that job, joined ROTC and came into the Air Force realizing it was what I had wanted to do for years. In actuality, I was following my father’s footsteps as would James T. Kirk. More than 30 years later I have reflected that there were various times in my life and my career that I kept challenging myself, daring myself to do better.
After reading Chief Master Sgt. Brad Shirley’s article on “attitude,” I thought I’d talk a little on daring ourselves to do better. As most of us know, we are facing long-term impacts to manpower and money. These are key resources to getting the mission accomplished and doing our daily jobs. Unfortunately, the level of work and the compliance requirements are not diminishing…in fact they are increasing. In essence, every day I look in the mirror and dare myself to do better. It’s hard, knowing the challenges we face.
As a supervisor, I have a responsibility to this wing and our country to draw that same perspective, that same attitude personally and from those around me. When I sense or see people groveling and complaining, I do what I can to pick them up and challenge them to do it better than the person before. I dare them to not be like those around us that do nothing but complain or look for faults in people and create conflict or morale issues in an organization. As a supervisor, it’s my attitude and my responsibility to help people realize they have capabilities they haven’t uncovered yet. As a supervisor, I have to help them find it, nurture it and then let it sprout. As a supervisor, I can’t continually knock them down when they make a mistake, or criticize them for something they did wrong. It could be that I failed to provide correct guidance or even guidance at all. Challenging our people to do better is an important facet to make them successful. If I’m not doing this, I’m failing them and they will never grow or even have a positive outcome in their duties or their career.
As a team, we are facing an upcoming inspection that will provide the Air Force an assessment of how this wing is doing in areas important to our leaders. In this, we are facing the challenge of preparing for that inspection plus doing our day-to-day duties. Some would say that we should be ready for an inspection all the time. I agree but there is nothing wrong in daring ourselves to do better than the last inspection, to do better and win the 2012 Herres and Moorman trophy again. I dare you; even better, dare yourself to look around and do it better.