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A Challenge to Airmen: Approach, Observe, Learn and Ask

  • Published
  • By Ch. (Capt.) Efren Adversario
  • 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Chapel
Our deployed location here is a smaller representation of any operational base back home. Every day I'm 'stoked' by the chance to talk with Airmen from around the installation and I'm constantly amazed by the jobs entrusted to our young people--to get our jobs done well, we must work with these different people from throughout the base.

Yet this is what I observe: most Airmen hang out off-duty with people they already know well.

This brings me to my point: Have we taken time to learn from each other, both professionally and personally?

Interaction with people from throughout the base isn't saved only for Chapel staff--in fact, it should be mandated for all Airmen. Senior enlisted stick together because they know the crucial importance of networking. Company grade officers usually hang out together for mutual support and junior Airmen such as the 5/6 and other organizations know the value of learning from each other for professional development. However, they still stick with their same crowds.

I challenge every Airman to go beyond your comfort zone and engage someone new. We stepped out of our comfort zone when we crossed into the blue--and after initial discomforts we got through basic training and technical school because we were motivated to serve and to excel. Now that our commitment is unquestioned, we have to propel it further.

Approach, smile, and then ask a question. Ask them what they do that contributes to mission success? How do they look at tasks in relation to the whole? You might then ask yourself what are some attributes that let this person either succeed or deter upward mobility? What can I learn about myself based on my interaction with this person?

You see, as a chaplain, when my assistant and I walk the base, we meet Airmen who are enthusiastic about showing us what they do and how their job contributes to the mission. The basic premise is that we are all professionals. A person's rank whether Airman Basic or Colonel doesn't stop them from learning. Up and down the chain, engage others about what they do. Ask a commander how he or she understands and enforces leadership. Ask an Airman why he or she enlisted and how that decision has altered their future or long-range goals.

Yes, I know there are good reasons we tend to hang out with the same people, but don't miss out on the opportunity to approach, observe, learn and ask. We are Airmen because we have chosen to make a difference...take that choice to a higher level.