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NEWS | Dec. 8, 2006

The key to readiness is balance in all aspects of life

By Maj. Darren Roach 437th Communications Squadron commander

Life is busy. The operations tempo is high. It seems as though there are always more items on the "to do" list than there is time to accomplish them. Add to this the holiday season, when life gets even busier than normal with special celebrations and events. It is a good time to refocus on what I consider the key to readiness - balance.

The first area that requires balance is the mission versus the people who accomplish it. As a young officer, I recall members of my unit discussing whether the commander was mission-oriented or people-oriented. However, over the years, the commanders I found to be most successful are both mission- and people-oriented. They embrace the old Army slogan of "Mission First, People Always." The mission is what our nation needs and why Uncle Sam pays us. But people are why we serve - we support and defend the Constitution for our families, friends and wingmen. To be at peak readiness to serve our country, it is important to balance your duty to yourself, to your family and friends and to the Air Force.

Readiness begins with you. You must have personal balance in spirit, mind and body to be at your peak. For your spirit, exercise your first amendment right to worship according to your own beliefs. Take advantage of the many services offered by our chaplain corps.

For your mind, pursue one of the many educational opportunities available. Enroll in professional military education, the Community College of the Air Force or a civilian university through the Education Center. If you have completed your PME and master's degree, then work your way through the Chief of Staff's reading list.

For your body, take advantage of the Air Force's Fit to Fight program, which provides up to 90 minutes of duty time for physical training three to five times a week. Spending time exercising your spirit, mind and body will enable you to be ready to give your best to your family and friends and to the Air Force.

With personal balance in place, the next step is family and friends readiness. If you are married and a parent, you need to balance your relationships with your spouse, children and extended family and friends. First, it is important that you make time to spend with your spouse alone - to strengthen your relationship as husband and wife.
Next, it is critical you spend quality time with your children. As former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy said, "If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do well matters very much."

After you have your immediate family taken care of, make the effort to build and maintain relationships with your extended family and friends. If you do, you will quickly find that you have a friend nearby, no matter where you are assigned. If you are not married, simply adapt this model to substitute spouse and children with the two most important people in your life. Spending time developing healthy relationships with family and friends gives you the balance needed to offer your best to the Air Force.

With balance in your personal life and in your relationships with family and friends, the third step is Air Force readiness. It is important to balance your responsibilities to your subordinates, superiors and peers. As a leader, you owe your subordinates mentorship - they deserve quality advice, guidance and feedback.

As a follower, seek mentorship from your superiors and be proactive in accomplishing the mission.

As a wingman, develop strong relationships with your peers both within and across functional areas - be active in squadron, group and wing organizations. Working with your peers is how you get things done. Spending time with your subordinates, superiors and peers gives you balance in your Air Force relationships and optimizes your service to our nation.

With balance in your duty to yourself, to your family and friends, and to the Air Force, you will be at peak readiness to serve our country and preserve our way of life for our families and future generations.