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Motivation in the desert

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Richard Linehan III
  • 763rd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron Commander
All of us have set some sort of deployment goals, whether it is getting in shape, finishing up a class, or working on professional military education. These are great long-term goals, but when does the motivation cease? One week, maybe two. Human nature has us working in the here and now. We work in an electronic hot-tasker world where we're prone to get tasks accomplished with a push of the "easy" button. 

It's also hard to break away from the friends and colleagues we continuously hang out with -- we are social animals. But, take advantage of all of the extra time in your schedules by not having to cook meals, pick up the kids, or shop for groceries.It's also hard to break away from the friends and colleagues we continuously hang out with -- we are social animals. But, take advantage of all of the extra time in your schedules by not having to cook meals, pick up the kids, or shop for groceries.

I challenge you to take five minutes from your busy day to write down what you plan on doing (short-term) tomorrow. Not all of the small stuff, but rather two or three things you'd like to get done. If you have to carry these tasks over a few days, that's OK. By focusing on the short term, you'll stay focused on the goal at hand and get more done.

When you come to that point in the day to make your list for tomorrow, review the past few days' worth of notes. Did you get those things accomplished? If not, plan on tackling them first. Before you know it, you'll have several long-term projects complete and your time here will be short or coming to an end. Don't concentrate on how much time you have left on your deployment, but instead on what you intend to get done tomorrow or the next day. Focus on the short term. This will help you recognize your progress -- "Look, see what I accomplished today."

Supervisors can make sure their Airmen develop the work ethic and life skills necessary to be successful by stressing the importance of constant and consistent improvement. By challenging your team to focus on working together toward a common goal, they'll soon develop a sense of pride from seeing their hard work, dedication, and commitment pay off.

The key to inspiring these Airmen is your positive attitude. Keep them working hard to develop these lessons instead of the instant gratification of which we have all become accustomed. Also, remember to set the example. Your subordinates will look to you and watch what you do. There is no better leadership principle to emulate than 'leadership by example.'

Each of us brings a unique set of skills and talents to the fight. By merging those talents together we end up building a stronger team. The new addition to your squadron or flight should be urged to provide feedback on the work processes currently in use. They are in the best position to add a fresh perspective and infuse change.

I'm just as guilty when it comes to procrastination as the next guy, but I know if I delay it's not going to be any easier tomorrow. Believe in yourself, find your internal motivation, and don't let distraction by long-term goals deter your progress on the short-term steps to achieve them. Take the time to review what you accomplished today and what needs to get done tomorrow. Urge the new Airmen to your squadron to provide feedback to current work processes; they just may have the background and fresh perspective to promulgate a best practice. No one ever remembers the hours spent in front of a TV, but they do remember achieving a goal. Once achieved, all the sacrifice seems like a far better payoff.

Constant pressure over time can make mountains.