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NEWS | April 5, 2017

Keep swinging away

By Col. Jimmy Canlas, commander 437th Airlift Wing

Springtime. I love this time of the year ; mild temperatures, leaves are blooming in different shades of green, perennials sprouting from the ground, longer daylight hours, and above all, opening weekend of Major League Baseball!  It is fun to watch your favorite team (Go Cardinals!) hoping they start their season with a victory and set the tone for the long 162-game season ahead.

Baseball provides many metaphors we use in our everyday conversations. We use phrases like “curve balls,” “covering the bases,” “sitting on two strikes,” “batting a thousand”...the list can go on and on.  A favorite of many is “hitting a home run” or, even better, a “grand slam.”  We love it so much it shows up on many performance reports and award packages.

Every leader loves to have a teammate who can hit “homeruns” for their organization.  It can be in the form of leading a transformational change to save time and money, streamlining processes to eliminate waste, or running a large- scale event like an airshow. However, we all realize not all of our Airmen are built to hit the “long ball," and that’s okay. As a leader, I don’t want (or expect) a homerun every time. I just want you to swing the bat. If the pitch looks good, go ahead and take a swing.

Pitches (or opportunities) are thrown our way many times each day. Some are easy, some are tricky, some seem impossible. But when we swing the bat, it shows we are making the effort to reach a desired result. The likelihood of hitting a home run every time is slim. I am not demanding nor expecting a home run every time…all I am asking you to do is swing the bat.

My desire as a leader is to see our Airmen and units grow through taking chances and calculated risks. In order to do that, we must step out of our comfort zone and be prepared for whatever “curveballs” are thrown our way. Sometimes we will swing and miss—and that’s ok too. Step back from the plate, take a deep breath and get ready for the next opportunity. If we hit a foul tip, at least we are getting close and just need some adjustments. If you make contact with the ball and get a base hit, then you are moving the team forward through incremental change. In the rare instance you hit a home run; you’ve pushed the team towards a win in a substantive way - that is pure gravy. 

What it comes down to is putting effort into every opportunity, even if it means striking out. Conversely, we should not tolerate striking by staring at a perfectly good pitch as it flies right by us. We cannot accept the status quo and do nothing when good opportunities are clearly in front of us. We should never allow ourselves to be paralyzed by fear of failure.

My point is; we need to keep trying. Base hit, foul tip, strike-out, or swinging; I’ll be there to greet you at the dugout and know I have your back…just keep swinging the bat!