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Make it count

  • Published
  • By Lt Col Michael G Rickard
  • Commander, 908 Expeditionary Refueling Squadron
Not too far up the road from McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., arguably the most brilliant mind of the 20th century, Dr. Albert Einstein, taught as a professor at Princeton University. A small, but significant sign above his desk read:

"Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts."

I found that interesting coming from a man that spent most of his life's work in mathematical theory and numbers. Maybe that perspective was his exact intent. Relevancy is lost in our fast-paced lives, and we often lose day-to-day perspective on what really counts.

People and mission count. Everyday people make the difference between success and failure in planning and executing our wing's mission of getting jets in the air. It is difficult to recognize sometimes, but always present. Just recently, we had two unexpected rainstorms disrupt our communication networks and limit our ability to receive the next day's Air Tasking Order. We looked at several options, and even considered flying the paperwork in, before an Airman came up with the idea to use a lesser known intelligence network to receive the information.

Although not a complex solution, it happened because Airmen of different expertise had come together to solve problems and push the mission.

Dr. Einstein also said, "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." In this case, these Airmen solved a problem by using their minds, not their know-how. Unfortunately for our enemy, this resourceful and ambitious attitude can never be underestimated.

We all count several different measures of success in our various workplaces. Although many metrics force progress, some misdirect and take on a life of their own. This is called mission creep and can insidiously hamper our ability to maintain mission focus. If it doesn't support people or the mission, it simply doesn't count, and we shouldn't be focused on it. Every minute spent chasing a lost cause is a minute less spent developing a better way to fight this war. We all have a responsibility to keep focused on the mission and provide timely, insightful input.

In short, we all came here on a mission. We came here to make our time count and go home satisfied with our performance and contributions. Time is fleeting and there are only so many opportunities each of us have in our careers to be so close to the action and engaged in the fight. Be sure to make your time count.