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NEWS | Sept. 9, 2015

It’s OK to Think and Be Part of the Discussion!

By Maj. Christopher Landwehr 628th Communications Squadron commander

How often do you read?  Whether its comics or Clausewitz, spend some time delving into a topic of interest.  Your selections don't have to be military-specific or leadership oriented.  Read the official, the unofficial and stay plugged-in to what's going on. 

Information is readily accessible and much of it can be a valuable resource, providing the participant an opportunity to garner new perspectives or to simply to exercise your mind.  When you explore competing and differing views on a particular topic, you will undoubtedly learn something new and you will sharpen your own understanding of the world around you.  Whether you read material that supports or negates your original position, the bottom-line is you are thinking and learning.

Pursuing information isn't just something leaders should do. We should all appreciate differing opinions and welcome other points of view.  The ability to bring people from diverse backgrounds together, while appreciating the differences and banding together to execute shared goals and missions, is what makes the Air Force and the military exceptional.  The military needs you to continually learn and think critically.  In order to do that you must seek out, understand, and evaluate opposing views.  Then, using the information available, you are able to reach your own educated conclusion.  Naturally, many of us get stove piped in our thinking and unknowingly shun or ignore the alternate viewpoints and perspectives of others. However, everyone should take the time to cultivate his or her understanding and position. Read counter points, editorials, blogs,  and opposing news sources. Welcome the variety of thought on the wide array of issues in the world. 

Diversity is what makes this organization great and a big part of that is diverse thought, perspectives, points of view and experiences.  We all have something to contribute.  As a new Airman, Sailor or Civilian you will see things through a unique lens shaped by your personal experiences.  Your new perspective will spark discussion, drive innovation, streamline processes and solve problems.

Various forms of this quote exist but the core meaning still holds true, "When everyone is thinking the same way, no one is thinking."  Learning organizations are proactive and foster intellectual broad-mindedness, in addition to supporting continual reevaluation and reflection.  If we don't entertain and encourage other opinions, our individual and organizational thoughts can become stale and limit our flexibility to adapt.   Of course in some crisis situations, we must press forward without the luxury of time to completely address the varied facets of an issue. In most cases, however, we have the time and we owe it to each other and the situation to fully evaluate.  You don't have to be empowered and you don't have to be ordered. 

Bottom-line, we need you to think. Your voice should be heard regardless of where you reside in the organization.  When the opinions have been expressed, the conversation stopped and the issue evaluated, we all need to move forward as if the decision was our own.  After all, we have a mission to accomplish.  Remember that you have to be part of the conversation AND part of the solution.  Don't stand on the sidelines and watch.  You have something amazing to offer. Leadership should listen, welcoming your thoughts, unique perspectives and opinions.  We should all be part of the discussion.