Why do "they" always win awards?

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Larry E. Simpson
  • 97th Communications Squadron
Doesn't it make you upset when you see the same people always winning awards, getting the recognition that you feel you deserve? So you ask yourself, "What can I do to improve my chances to make things better for me?" "How can I win these awards?" There are several ways to be successful at getting the recognition you deserve. Henry Ford once said, "Don't find fault, find a remedy; anybody can complain." Well in the Air Force, we stress the "whole person" concept. This concept generally covers three areas: leadership/job performance, self improvement, and base/community involvement. Largely, each of us strives to execute our work the best we can. Let's begin to pave the way to your success by first discussing leadership and job performance.

Leadership and job performance acknowledges how well we do our job. For the most part, the Air Force as a whole accepts only the best people. You should strive to be the best at what you do. One way is to develop or improve an existing process or program. What can you do that someone else didn't, couldn't or wouldn't do? Do something that is the benchmark, the Air Force standard or something innovative, new or simply the best of its kind. Whatever you accomplish, ask yourself, "Will it benefit the shop, the organization, the base, MAJCOM or affect the entire AF?"

Change is good, especially when there are things that are wrong such as operating instructions, policies, etc. Self improvement will be greatly enhanced if you conquer leadership and job performance.

Self improvement can come in many forms of personal and professional growth. For enlisted personnel, the Air Force recommends the completion of the Community College of the Air Force associate's degree, especially before you are a senior NCO. Officers are encouraged to complete their master's degree before they make major. Taking college courses will help complete the degrees you seek, which is definitely significant self improvement. You can also take correspondence courses, or college level tests such as CLEPs or DANTES. Take an online course through the AF Portal.

Other avenues of self improvement are, reading leadership and management books and volunteering to attend special course and seminars related to your profession. The key component of self improvement to reflect on is to be sure these things are related to making you a more productive member of the Air Force and a better person overall. Naturally, self improvement and making yourself better should help you lead the way for base and community involvement.

Getting involved with the base and the community can not only make you feel good, but also gives something back to the community. The key to this area is making a difference in your squadron, base, and the local area. Becoming a member of the unit or base NCO or Airman's council is an excellent beginning. Organizing mock boards for the squadron or heading a mentorship program is paramount. Other ways to give back are to join a Habitat for Humanity program, an adopt-a-school program, or volunteer for key positions at special functions such as promotion ceremonies. Become an active member of professional organizations similar to the Air Force Sergeants' Association, "Top-3", "Team 5 6", "First Four Airman's Council" or one related to your career. Don't just volunteer; take a position to show your leadership ability. The key is to set yourself apart from all others.

If you use this advice, you will get the awards and recognition you deserve! Having stated that, I think you can answer the question, "What can I do to improve my chances to make things better for me?" Remember, in the Air Force we stress the "whole person" concept, which covers three areas: leadership/job performance, self improvement and base/community involvement. Come on now, you can win too. Find those things that interest you and go for it.