Here’s some ‘great advice’ to follow

  • Published
  • By Maj. Robert Triplett
  • 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander

One of the greatest Air Force experiences I've had is learning from the many senior noncommissioned officers who've taught me more about leadership than I could've learned in any book.

The absolute best senior NCO I ever served with was Chief Master Sgt. Dennis Desilet. He was an outstanding leader and mentor to our Airmen, and he passed on three pieces of great life advice I'd like to share with you.

"If someone says 'wouldn't it be funny if,' usually whatever happens next is never funny,' Chief Desilet said.

The Air Force common sense version of this is Operational Risk Management -- think before you act. If your gut tells you something that's about to happen isn't right, listen, and don't do it or let it happen. Regardless of your rank, you have a right to call "time out" if something is unsafe. Experience tells us more people get hurt, and more things get broken during off-duty activities than at work, so keep your guard up at all times.

He also said, "Nothing good happens after midnight."

Any time I've received a phone call after midnight, it usually starts with "Sir, this isn't good." The one exception to this rule is all the outstanding work our Airmen do on the off-shifts. However, the call is usually bad news because the majority of alcohol-related incidents, including people driving under the influence, happen after midnight. Once you get to the midnight-hour, put your guard up; think about McConnell's 3-1-0-0 policy, and absolutely do not drink and drive; it's not worth it. If you are out with friends, be the Wingman our Air Force needs you to be; it could save a life and a career.

"Keep your throttle at 80 percent," the chief said.

This one might be a bit of a surprise to you, so let me explain. If you run an aircraft engine at full power all the time, it won't be too long before it'll catastrophically fail. This doesn't mean you shouldn't live up to our core value of "excellence in all we do" and give 100 percent to any assigned task. It means keep all aspects of your life, work-home and spirit, in balance so you don't burn out. Make sure you make time for your family and your personal well-being. If you are struggling in any aspect of your life, do yourself and those around you a favor, and find the courage to ask for help. Our Air Force has some outstanding resources available to you. If you are having money problems, go see the Airmen and Family Readiness Center. If you need to talk to someone, whether you are a religious person or not, a chaplain is a great resource and one who can give you complete anonymity. If you think you need professional help, I highly encourage you to visit Life Skills. No one will think any less of you for doing so, and in most cases, your chain of command won't even know. If you have been a victim of assault, call the sexual assault response coordinator, who will give you the care you need and protect your privacy. If you are having issues with your family, seek some counseling with Family Advocacy.

So remember, if someone says "wouldn't it be funny if ...," whatever happens next probably won't be funny. Nothing good happens after midnight, and always keep your engines running at 80 percent. These are three great pieces of advice from a great chief. I hope they serve you as well as they have me.