It’s all about ability, motivation, attitude

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. John Gebhardt
  • 22nd Medical Group
Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do, and attitude determines how well you do it.
An Airman's ability is developed and honed through basic and technical training, career upgrade training, Professional Military Training and beyond. The Air Force provides all required ability training and knowledge to become a proficient technician, supervisor and professional Airman to complete the mission and supervise others.

Motivation and attitude are individual choices and make the difference between substandard Airmen, ordinary Airmen and extraordinary Airmen. People do not join the Air Force with lack of motivation or bad attitude. Rather, supervisors and leaders tolerate poor behavior and allow substandard motivation and poor attitudes to develop. Supervisors act as enablers by looking the other way or shift a substandard-performing Airman's responsibilities to one with the proper motivation and attitude. Second-rate supervisors "pass the buck" by allowing Airmen to reenlist, Permanente Change of Station or get promoted. When this happens, supervisors hurt the mission and people. Ordinary civilians join our Air Force in search of high standards and we fail them by allowing substandard motivation and bad attitudes to develop.

Supervisors have three options when confronted with a choice. They can make the right decision, make the wrong decision or worst of all, make no decision. Cowards make the worst choice by making no decision, which ultimately hurts the Airman and mission. Which type of decisions do you make on a daily basis?

Supervisors must choose if they want to be nice or to be honest with Airmen, and supervisors must not confuse friendship and leadership. All Airmen deserve the respect of knowing where they stand with their supervisors and their place in the Air Force. Supervisors should be honest and tell them what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. Additionally, they should provide honest feedback when they're doing well. The quickest way to lose the respect of Airman is to criticize their shortcomings without recognizing their strengths.

Every Airman has the potential to demonstrate the same level of motivation and attitude. Do not lower the standards for any Airman. All Airmen must be held to the same standards. Leaders, supervisors, wingmen and Airmen must hold themselves personally accountable for ability, motivation and attitude. Virtually every late Enlisted Performance Report, missed suspense or mission failure can be attributed to substandard motivation or attitude, not ability.

Life is full of decisions. Every Airman has made the decision to become an Airman. Abraham Lincoln said, "Whatever you are, be a good one." President Lincoln was talking about ordinary citizens. We are not ordinary, we are Airmen and our standard is, "Whatever you are, be a great one."
Supervisors, demand of yourself and your Airmen to be great Airmen both on and off duty. Great Airmen find a way to complete the mission without excuses, starting with positive self-motivation and a "can-do, will-do" attitude. Remember, it's up to you to be a great Airman and ensure those around you are as well.