Core Values: Don't leave your job without them

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Paul Willingham
  • 22nd Medical Support Squadron commander
 As leaders, we are each charged to ensure the Air Force Core Values are adhered to on and off duty. They are briefed and discussed in numerous venues and commanders and supervisors are on a continual quest to relate them to daily activities and successful mission accomplishment. Under the Back to Basics philosophy, we provide each squadron member the latest copy of the "Little Blue Book" while asking the question, "What do the Core Values mean to you?" I'd like to share one of the responses:

Core Values are not only relevant when we are working. They are there for us to follow all the time, as ever present reminders that we are American Airmen, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We should embrace these values, whether at work, on leave, deployed or just enjoying the evening off. These values keep us on the moral high ground and can help in any situation. We can live up to the Core Values by asking ourselves three simple questions: Am I doing what is right? Am I putting my country and my Air Force needs before my own? Am I doing the best that I can do each and every day?

As for integrity first; it is first for a reason. Without integrity, nothing would matter and nobody would be held accountable. It's not only doing what is right, but doing the right thing even if nobody is looking. It's as simple as leaving earlier in the morning to get to work on time or putting your cover on outside even when no one else is around. You do it because it is the right thing to do. Integrity is your moral compass and includes other traits such as courage, honesty, responsibility, accountability, justice, openness, self-respect and humility.

The next Core Value is service before self. This not only applies to our Air Force job, but any other groups or activities we are involved with. Is there a new movie that just came out, but you already promised to help at a group function? You want to stay out late, but you've promised a friend to take him to the airport early in the morning; what do you do? Service before self, putting the needs of others before your own is the right answer.

Excellence in all we do. Excellence does not merely reflect itself in products or services we provide, it also includes personal endeavors, community support and resource management. Striving for excellence does not necessarily imply perfection. We are human beings and human beings are not perfect. You always need to try and perform at your best given the situation and available resources.

Still not sure of your decision? Try the 20/20 test - what would happen and how would it be viewed if my actions on decisions were displayed on the television program "20/20?" Did I display integrity? Did I put my needs before the needs of others? Did I do the best that I could do? As Airmen, we should all embrace the Core Values and use them in our everyday life.

Leaders are not only required to live by the Core Values, but also required to ensure others are doing the same. I keep the phrase "Don't walk by!" on display in a prominent spot in my office so I can be forever reminded that, big or small, when something is not right, stop and fix it. Passing by something wrong implies you are tolerating less than the best and we can never stray from the highest standards when it comes to our Core Values, our Air Force and our nation.