Success is a personal choice

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Lisa Sheehan
  • Commander, 97th Medical Squadron
Williams Jennings Bryan said, "Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved."

Even after 16 years in the military, it continues to surprise me how often I hear military members make comments regarding others who always seem to get the awards or the attention of leadership. What these frustrated Airmen haven't figured out is they, too, have the same opportunities. The only difference is those who receive frequent awards, etc., actually seek out or are open to opportunities and challenges that come their way. It doesn't mean these Airmen are smarter, more deserving or have better leadership skills. These Airmen have made a conscious decision to act on opportunities that come their way.

Last July, I had the pleasure of attending an NCO graduation at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. It was there I heard the wise words of one of our former Chief Master Sergeant's of the Air Force. Retired Chief Master Sgt. Robert D. Gaylor, the fifth Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, was giving a speech to the graduating class. He began his speech by saying three words, "Aptitude, attitude and motivation." He continued by saying, "As individuals, we each have control of these three factors, and when aligned, these three factors can facilitate success."

And just how do these factors help us be successful? Chief Gaylor said, "Having the right level of training and education, or aptitude, joined with a positive attitude and positive motivation prepares us for the growth opportunities that come our way. It is then our acceptance or refusal of these opportunities that gives each of us some control over the direction of our own destiny and ultimately, success."

I found Chief Gaylor's speech both inspiring and refreshing. His message was clearly that of personal responsibility and preparation. Success is not about luck, being smarter or being more deserving than anyone else. It is about being prepared to take on the challenges and opportunities that come our way.

How should you start preparing? First, don't be afraid of failure. Secondly, realize that sometimes your own thoughts, attitudes and behaviors are your biggest challenges. Thirdly, find a mentor; someone that can guide and encourage you. Always keep in mind that the desire to succeed comes from within. It is a choice only you can determine.