Know the core values

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. James Kahrs
  • 22nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron
Integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do are great words, but what do they really mean, and how do we apply them to our lives?

Integrity is doing the right thing even when nobody is looking. This is the common definition used by most people today, but I think a better definition would be - doing the right thing when nobody is looking, even if it's going to hurt.

In our society, where the concept of truth or absolutes is under attack, the meaning of integrity is even more difficult. What is the right thing? How are we supposed to know what it is, and does it really matter if I do it anyway?

The answer is, of course, most people know intuitively what the right thing is, but we always have the choice to do the right thing or not. Does it really matter? Of course, it does. It always has and always will.

Not doing the right thing at the right time for the right reason will always result in some degree of harm to someone. We may not be able to see how at the time, but it always does. And, every time we allow ourselves to compromise and not do the right thing, we dull our intuition and harden our hearts, making it easier to do the wrong thing the next time.

In the profession of arms, where lives hang in the balance everyday and the trust of our nation is our most precious asset, a lack of integrity can spell disaster for our country.

Service before self, a phase that is very difficult to live up to, is critically important to excelling as an organization.

Self sacrifice is one of the three cornerstones on which we build our Air Force. It is the foundation upon which this nation was built and without it, we would not be a beacon of hope and freedom to the world.

The key to personal satisfaction has always been self sacrifice. Don't believe it? Take a look at anyone who is unhappy or malcontent, and what you're going to see is a person who has made every choice for himself and not for others.

The happiest people on the planet are those who have given their lives for others. Don't misunderstand me; self sacrifice does not come cheaply or easily. It is often painful and may result in great personal loss. However, nothing of great value ever came without great cost.

Excellence in all we do may be the most difficult of the three core values to live out each and every day.

To achieve this, one has to battle against the tide of mediocrity, fatigue, time constraints and the ever present pressure to cut corners.

Although the effects of mediocrity in other professions may only result in annoying products such as toys that break easily or a house that leaks, mediocrity in the profession of arms is a deadly cancer that can never be tolerated in ourselves or those around us.

In the current Global War on Terror environment, anything less than our best could result in disaster for our nation and the world at large.

We hear the core values talked about a lot, but I hope every Airman takes time to seriously consider what they him personally.