By Chief Master Sgt. Timothy C. White Jr. | Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chief of Air Force Reserve
ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. — Citizen Airmen: In this edition, the boss and I decided to touch on a very complex topic: change. Either you love it, hate it or just try to roll with it. It is a billion dollar industry with books, articles and podcasts all hoping to educate and coach us on how to cope, handle or even lead change. One thing is certain, if you don’t embrace it and learn to evolve with the change, you will be left behind.
It’s difficult; I get it. We are creatures of habit and many of us are accustomed to our own comfortable ways or upbringings, but the Air Force is evolving, the world is evolving and, most importantly, our culture is evolving. We are in the midst of some of the biggest changes this century has ever seen.
This past year has been one for the books. Our entire world as we knew it changed overnight one day last March and here we are a year later still not back to normal. COVID has changed us and the way we will operate in the future, even in the Air Force Reserve.
We have adapted to telework, and it is here to stay. We have perfected the virtual meeting, and we had to get creative with how we connect with each other on a daily basis. The pandemic has even altered our personal lives. For the past year, we were confined to our homes with very little social interaction, and that can change people. As we slowly return to normal, we must realize the transition might not be easy for everyone; be a good wingman and check in on your family and friends.
The rise of social media this past decade has changed the way we communicate. When I joined the Air Force Reserve more than 31 years ago, we received information from our supervisors, who received information from their supervisors and so on. Now, we all receive information at the same time whether it’s from a social media post or an email. We, as leaders, need to be comfortable with this.
We live in a fast-paced, digital era, and we must keep up. We now have direct access to our most senior leaders and elected officials of this country, and we’ve learned over the past few years that what you say and do online has real consequences. Please embrace this change, but also be cognizant of the permanent digital footprint you are creating.
Lastly, I want to discuss one of the most impactful and important changes happening as we speak in the Air Force Reserve — the culture change. The way we work, interact with Airmen and treat one another is changing before our eyes, and it’s about time.
As a young Airman, I remember being told to never openly discuss social issues surrounding race, religion, national origin or sexual orientation in the workplace, because it had the potential of exposing differences. Now, we openly discuss and celebrate our differences and strive to create an environment of inclusivity. I say this time and time again: the only way we will make our organizations better is to surround ourselves with people who think differently than us.
They catch our blind spots, offer a different perspective and add valuable insight. At the end of the day, we might not like the same football team or share the same political views, but we must be respectful and open to people who are different from us.
The boss and I are honored to serve you and your families during this historic period of change. Thank you for taking it head on, being resilient and adapting to it so we come out better on the other side.