Joint Base Charleston


Win today's game

By Lt. Col. Dale Skinner | 628th Contracting Squadron commander | February 13, 2013

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- The 2013 Super Bowl champions have been crowned and it got me thinking about my old football days. Twenty years ago, I had a high school football coach tell me that you can only win the game you are playing right now. You can't be concerned about the state championship at the end of the season; instead worry about doing your very best at today's practice and build on it as the season progresses.

Do your job correctly now and the wins, awards, accolades and championships will come. It's not okay to cheat on one set of bench presses, occasionally skip practice, or ease off even one play in a football game because you believe it is insignificant to the season. The rest of the team is counting on you to do your job, just as you count on them to do theirs. Then, and only then, does the entire team win.

Several years later, as a new lieutenant, I asked my colonel how to be successful and how to become an Air Force colonel. He told me, "Do your very best at the job you have right now. Don't be concerned about making colonel right now, just do your job and build on it as your career progresses. Do your job and awards and promotions will follow."

Your Air Force job, whatever it is, fits into the Air Force mission and it's important or it wouldn't exist. Today's Air Force faces budget constraints like never seen in history. If your job wasn't important, it would have already been eliminated. The job may be preparing meals, guarding aircraft, pumping gas, purchasing furniture or leading the acquisition strategy for the F-35 Joint Strike program ... whatever it is, do your job, do it correctly and opportunities will follow.

I raised my hand and volunteered to defend our flag and I know you did too. I'm proud to work hard and sacrifice whatever is necessary to support and defend our constitution alongside people like you who have volunteered to do the same. However, the sense of entitlement in our country has gotten out of hand and we need to remember that we owe this country and its tax-paying citizens the service we volunteered for. Other squadrons count on you to do your job just as you count on them to do theirs - then and only then can we succeed as a team. Terms like government subsidies, concessions, assistance, and bailouts are too common in today's world. Life choices and success aren't covered by a warranty, failure is a possibility, and we need to be accountable for our decisions. Your squadron doesn't owe you anything except to prepare you to do your job just as the Air Force doesn't owe you anything more than the paycheck and benefit package you signed up for. Do your job and do it correctly.

From your very first day in the Air Force, senior Airmen begin teaching you the core values of integrity, service and excellence. These are not new ideas the Air Force dreamed up when it became a service in 1947. These concepts ... ethics, loyalty and continuous improvement ... exist in successful businesses throughout the world. The idea of honesty, hard work, truth and merit are all ingredients for success no matter what your dream.

Being selected to command a squadron is a great honor. Upon notification, thoughts immediately go to winning awards at the base, MAJCOM and Air Force levels. How do we beat the squadron that won last year? What can I do to ensure we are the best in the Air Force? Then the words of my coach, my first mentor, came back to me; you start by winning the game you are playing right now. You will not get a chance to participate in an Air Force level competition tomorrow if you first can't learn and perform the fundamentals of your job today. If you can't execute your daily duties correctly you will never get an invite to the big game.

I urge you to remember this - do your job (the one you have been assigned today) to the very best of your ability and new opportunities will consistently become available to you. Don't cheat yourself, your co-workers or your country.

I have thought about my old high school football coach often throughout my Air Force career. For a man that never took a course in leadership, never studied military history, never attended one PME seminar, never bothered with customs and courtesies, he certainly knew a lot about running an Air Force squadron.

Do your job and win today's game.

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