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Know your role, own it, and be the best you can be every day

By Lt. Col. Mary Finn | 628th Aerospace Medicine | July 2, 2018

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. —

Many people stagnate because the job they have is not fun or is not their dream job. This mindset ignores that in almost every industry, entry-level positions exist for a reason and no one starts out as the CEO. It is vital for an organization to have strong, dedicated workers at every level, focused on their current position as well as preparing for the next.  People that lack this insight may go through the motions, never fully committing themselves to fulfilling their role. They produce suboptimal results, receive little recognition, and rarely feel a sense of purpose.  They don’t realize that the dissatisfaction they feel is a direct result of the fact that they do very little to contribute to the organization.

On the other end of the spectrum are those who are able to “bloom where they are planted.”  While the phrase is cliché, the ability to adapt and achieve in any environment is integral to success in today’s military and civilian sectors. These people commit themselves to filling their role to the absolute best of their abilities, and thus manage to shine whether the job is mundane or complex. They take what is asked of them, fulfill it completely, and look for new ways to contribute.  However, becoming successful involves more than doing your best every day—though in my opinion that’s a big part. Being the best bank teller won’t ever make you president of the bank.  You must commit to knowing every aspect of your job, then seek opportunities to expand your scope of knowledge. Ideally, examine the organization’s needs, vulnerabilities, and projected areas for growth. Further, incorporating your own strengths and areas of interest will not only focus your efforts, but help to poise you for the position you hope to achieve.

Millions of people in the United States hate their jobs. It may be that they simply don’t like the work.  In some cases, people’s discontent stems from feeling their duties are beneath them. In others, they feel they are smarter or more competent than their supervisor. In all of these circumstances, a lack of enjoyment in their position can hamper a commitment to success.  So, instead of focusing on knowing their role and executing with excellence, they simply get by—completely missing the fact that opportunities are not given to the mediocre.

If you love your job, that’s fantastic. Be the best at it and train those that follow you to do it better when you move on. Be a loyal follower, a selfless leader, and a dedicated teammate. Find innovative ways to make your shop shine and your team successful. 

But if you hate your job, you have three choices:

You can choose not to change, and accept the effects of your actions.  If you hate being at work, it’s unlikely to be a secret. You are negatively impacting morale and productivity in your shop, whether you realize it or not. 

You can change your expectations and learn to love it. This strategy is simple, but not easy. However, how we feel about our circumstances IS a decision. Focus on those aspects you like and learn to enjoy the challenges presented by those you don’t. Every day is an opportunity for victory.

You can change your circumstances. That might mean finishing your commitment and moving on. It might be changing shops, cross-training, volunteering for a deployment, or simply rearranging your workspace. A new perspective can work wonders on your outlook.  Or you can be the best in your role, seek leadership opportunities, and mold our Air Force to make it better for the next generation of Airmen.

The choice is yours.