Daily Prompt 12/16

Tell us one thing you hope people never say about you…

I like this daily prompt a lot. This is a great question.

I hope people never say that I don’t or didn’t care. I care so much. Maybe more than I should in some instances. Sometimes I care so much that I sacrifice myself for other people. I don’t seem to learn when I should not care. I gave so much more than I should’ve to the Air Force. I feel bad when I think about how much I gave and what I gave up for the Air Force.

The three Air Force core values are Integrity, Service before self, and Excellence in all you do. I always did what I thought was right. And when I supported the people I supervised over me, I thought that was service before self. I thought that was about helping them get better, get opportunities, and take care of them. When I didn’t make the next rank, I got to do a feedback with this woman who looked at all the promotion records and compared yours to other people’s who made it. She said I had so many good things and only one bad think…not enough individual awards. I did not have enough INDIVIDUAL awards.

Let me talk for a minute about about these awards. You have quarterly awards and annual awards at all levels. Squadron, group, wing, numbered AF, MAJCOM, and finally BIG Air Force. You don’t have to win quarterly to go up for annual, but you have to win at squadron to go to group. There was no quarterly awards above the wing level, but there were other various awards annually. Generally the way you get put in for an award is that you write your own award package. You keep up with what you need for the award and then you put yourself in. Sometimes your leadership at various levels will tell you they want to put you in and they help you make sure you get everything done to meet the requirements. But usually you have to put yourself in.

When I was young, I focused on the job and not the other stuff like volunteering and self improvement. Self improvement could be taking classes towards your next degree or doing some reading or something weird and lame like that. The rationale was that everyone should be working hard at the job. I watched people who were worthless at the work part win awards because they volunteered for things and lead extracurricular things. But at the job…they sucked. And they achieved rank and high levels that they weren’t able to handle. But hey, they won lots of individual awards so they obviously are doing things right and make rank after rank.

Some of these people are groomed early for this. You can see it in their career path and how they managed to avoid the sucky deployments and assignments. They don’t have the flying hours everyone else does because they are busy on the ground briefing generals. No one at their peer level and below them likes them at all. But leadership sees what they want to see and so these people are given special mentoring and doors open for them. These doors don’t open because they take care of the people below them. The doors open because they take care of their leadership. That’s never how I would want to be remembered or spoken about. I care. And that caring is not looked at as a strength in the Air Force world I was in. It was considered weakness and “not enough individual awards.”

(I will forever wonder why the criteria for making rank as an Air Force officer has nothing to do with the number of winning award packages you put in for your people. That seems like a better indication of who is a leader and who is a self serving asshole.)

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