Are you living up to your abilities?

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Ricky Keil
  • 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron
Many folks have heard me say I'd rather have a flight of average Airmen giving me 100 percent than a flight of superstars giving me 80 percent.

Why on earth would a chief want average people and not superstars? The answer is simple; I want and need people I can count on to live up to their abilities.

Not everyone has the same abilities. Some individuals are naturally gifted in many areas, while others may only be gifted in a single area.

Simply watching people participate in intramural or squadron sports events will show you a great many of us are not as talented as we'd like to be. However, it is also easy to observe who lacks talent but is giving full effort as opposed to those who have the talent but are not giving full effort.

A recent event in major league baseball will highlight this difference. Manny Ramirez, formerly of the Boston Red Sox, gave a rather lackluster effort running to first base. The opposing pitcher had a no hitter going, and Mr. Ramirez clearly didn't put forth the effort to try and break up that no hitter.

To say his teammates and the Boston fans were unhappy would be an understatement, and within two weeks he was traded. People will speculate as to why; but, the bottom line is, his fans and teammates lost confidence and trust in him. He surely has the talent; but, that night, he did not live up to his abilities.

Living up to your abilities all the time inspires trust and confidence, and those are the cornerstones of success in any military unit.

Military members cannot operate effectively if they don't trust each other and have confidence in each other's abilities. Every day we see examples of people living up to their abilities; every KC-135 Stratotanker that takes off on time is testament to that fact.

Luckily, the examples of people not living up to their abilities are much fewer, but unfortunately, still present. It can be especially damaging when someone who is looked up to doesn't give us 100 percent.

How many of us have seen our heroes let us down at a crucial moment? It can be a very heart-wrenching experience.

Now don't mistake not living up to abilities for mistakes or slumps. Every one of us make mistakes, and every one of us gets into slumps. But, if you have the trust and confidence of those around you, they will back you up and help pull you through.

Again, the key is giving your best effort all the time. Now more than ever, we must give our best effort all the time. In the Global War on Terror, we cannot afford to let our guard down or not live up to our abilities. Too many lives are at stake if we fail because we didn't give enough.

Many individuals in this wing have deployed on missions "outside the wire" in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places.

I would not want to be in a convoy in Mosul, Iraq, with someone who doesn't live up to their abilities. I know many others who have been in far more convoys, in far more treacherous locations like Main Supply Route Tampa, Iraq, who would never allow someone in their convoy if they didn't trust him.

The wing too, is under constant scrutiny to get tankers in the air to refuel the force and deliver the supplies needed to prosecute the war. Wing leadership's abilities are directly tied to each of our abilities and leadership is held accountable for all of our actions or inactions.

With that, we must hold each other accountable for living up to our abilities. It is not simply just meeting the standard; it is about using the talent we were born with, developed, or learned to execute the mission.

Hold people accountable for not living up to their abilities. If they're only giving 80 percent effort all the time, rate them appropriately.

The really scary thought is: if someone is only giving 80 percent, are they giving 80 percent everyday or 100 percent on four days and 0 percent on the fifth? I don't want to be in the convoy with that person on the fifth day.

Find ways of motivating individuals performing below their abilities; define your expectations and explain the consequences. Don't let people give the cop out of "everyone else is only doing this much."

Successful Airmen and leaders don't use that excuse. The Air Force rewards those who live up to their abilities all the time, either through recognition programs, promotion or placing Airmen into positions of greater responsibility and trust.

The nation and the Air Force are relying on you. Are you living up to your abilities?