Secrets to Success

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Robert Blakeborough
  • 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
I am often asked "What can I do to become a Chief someday?" The tips that I am giving may not make you a chief, but will lead to an enjoyable, successful career, whatever rank you attain.

Tips for all Airmen:

Be on time. Be 15 minutes early to everything; whether it's showing up for work, an appointment, and especially to Weighted Airman Promoted System testing. Don't be the Airman that has letter of conduct's an inch thick for something as easy as being on time.

Work to improve your customs and courtesies. Be polite when answering the phone. Stand up when speaking to an Officer. Don't say; "yeah man", "yup", and "uh-huh" when asked a question by anyone that outranks you. Never run from paying respect to the United States flag.

Wear your uniform properly and have the fortitude to correct those that don't. Get your hands out of your pockets (it's a bad habit that will become hard to break). If your boots or your gortex looks like you slept in an auto shop, get new ones before someone tells you to. Don't be the Airman that constantly needs to be told to manage your appearance, handle it.

Show initiative. Be the Airman that is always busy doing something productive. Don't be the Airman that avoids work, or magically disappears when the boss is looking for someone to get something done. If you are a non-commissioned officer and you find yourself actually seeking ways to "skate", your Airman will pick up on that and follow your lead.

Finish your training as soon as possible. Get your Career Development Courses done and finish your upgrade training. Seek out every training opportunity, whether it is professional military education, on the job training, Web based training, professional development, or ancillary training courses. Make yourself more marketable in case you decide to separate or are retiring soon. Don't let your time in the Air Force pass by without some form of self improvement.

Latch on to an NCO or Senior NCO you respect and want to follow in their footsteps. Watch him or her closely and follow their lead.

Get three sides of the story before you react to a problem. Be proactive versus reactive, you'll head off small problems before they become big ones. Solve issues at the lowest level. Don't be a complainer, identify issues and have three recommended solutions. Complaining without solutions is whining.

Start and more importantly finish your off-duty education. If you are a SNCO, you won't make it past master sergeant without your Community College Air Force degree; get it done, so you can be competitive for senior master sergeant.

If your subordinates are afraid to talk to you, work on your approachability. Try to have a sense of humor.

Apply the "golden rule". Treat others as you'd like to be treated. Don't get a "big head" when you progress through the ranks. Remember where you came from. Most of us have had good and not so good bosses at some time in our career. Learn how to treat your subordinates from these leaders.

Get involved. Try to get involved or lead a big project at some point in your career. Seek out leadership positions in the Airman's Council, Route 56, Top 3, and Company Grade Officer's Council. Seek out opportunities to get involved or lead a professional organization like Air Force Sergeants Association, or Non-Commissioned Officer Association.

I hope you can apply some of these tips to have a successful, enjoyable career. I thought I'd pass on a few tips because I'm nearing the end of a wonderful 26-year career in the Air Force. I am retiring on Feb. 29. It's been a pleasure serving with each of you, take good care of our Air Force.