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Every part of the body is vital to the mission

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Steve McDonald
  • 451st AEW Command Chief
Last week I wrote about how each person in the wing is like a part of the human body.
Different parts of the body are responsible for different functions but all work together to accomplish the overall work of the body. The existence of every part of the body is vital to the mission.

What happens when the parts of the body are present but not necessarily functioning at their peak capacity?

In our lives, we will experience situations where our body doesn't perform at the level that we want it to. One such situation is an injury or sickness. I'm sure each one of you has had some sort of injury or sickness that affected your physical capabilities. You cannot perform at 100 percent if you have a broken bone, are recovering from a surgery or are violently sick. It's amazing how important a part of the body is when it's not available for use.
We take so much for granted. What about your pinky toe? I'm guessing that most of you don't think about your pinky toe on a consistent recurring basis. But have you ever broken your pinky toe? It's just a pinky toe that no one thinks about. It's amazing how much a broken toe can slow you down. It makes just getting around difficult.

In relation to mission accomplishment, I see discipline issues as having the same affect that an injury or sickness has on the body. There are some things we choose to not pay attention to on a regular basis and before we know it, something happens that interferes with the mission. Both deployed and in-garrison, discipline issues affect our personnel and rob us of time and resources. When some of our personnel are in trouble, they are out of the game and not available to contribute to the mission. It affects all those around. It's amazing how much discipline issues can slow the mission down.

Another situation that causes our bodies to not perform at the level we want is one that everyone either has or will experience. That situation is the process of aging. My body is not able to do things that I used to be able to do simply because of age. You may try to stay in relatively good shape but there is only so much you can do to put off the effects of age. I'm reminded of that every time I try to play basketball. I've never been compared to Michael Jordan but I was able to play basketball many years ago. Now, when I'm on the basketball court, my mind knows how to move and how to shoot but my body is not able to comply. It just isn't able to perform at a higher level because of the aging process.

Just as discipline issues can be compared to injuries or illnesses, I believe there is a parallel in mission accomplishment with the effects of age on the body. I think the parallel to aging is complacency. There are some who get complacent and quit focusing on the important things. People have been in a certain job or a certain location for so long they get comfortable. They have learned the best way to do things and aren't interested in new ideas. They have given up trying to make improvements and are content with the status quo. Even though there may be those who know where to move the team and what goals to shoot for, these people don't have the energy or drive to try. In the end, the team and the mission suffer.

Just as sickness, injury and aging affect the ability of the human body, lack of discipline and complacency affect the mission. Your involvement in addressing these issues can have a huge impact. Pay attention to the details. Engaged leadership can notice discipline problems early. Involved supervisors will be able to handle these issues before they can grow into a mission-impacting situation. Knowing your people also enables you to know if they have settled into a life of complacency. Challenge your personnel to look for improvements. Entrust them to make decisions and changes. Give them ownership of the process and explain that the outcome is dependent on them.
We can't help getting hurt or getting old, but we can make a difference in the areas of discipline and complacency through engaged leadership.