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NEWS | May 19, 2015

The Four Cs

By Col. Margret Jones 628th Medical Group commander

Our lives are made up of hundreds of thousands of interpersonal interactions in both the personal and professional arenas.  When new members arrive to our group, I discuss four important "Cs": competency, compassion, courage and communication.  These four C's are vital to the optimal performance of any unit and every interpersonal relationship.
Competency in your areas of responsibility is essential.   Your level of competency grows with education and experience.  It is critical to master your duties and mission to the best of your ability.  Continue to grow in everything you do, ask questions, read, challenge yourself in your endeavors.  Develop an intimate knowledge of the AFIs, policies and protocols that guide your work section.  Practice your craft to sharpen your skills.  In the military, each time we join a new unit our competency is reevaluated.  We must re-earn the trust of our peers, staff, and senior leaders.  Sometimes this can be frustrating; however, it challenges us as to continually improve.  Strive to learn something each day, take each assignment as a new adventure and deepen your competency in your primary mission.

Compassion is important in all aspects of human encounters.  Some think compassion is only something you do for others; however we need it for ourselves as well.  We are often our own worse critics.  In order to be compassionate towards others we need compassion towards ourselves.  Compassion leads to kindness and mercy.  In the work area, we should be conscious of our actions and reactions and be compassionate in our response.  Yes, we will make mistakes, pick yourself up, learn and press forward.  How we respond during good times, is easy; how we respond in difficult times shows our true character and molds us into the kind of person we ultimately want to be.  Some equate compassion with weakness; I do not believe this to be true.  It can be difficult to treat others with compassion, especially during times of failure that affect the mission or create significant hardship for the team.  Compassion does not imply a lack of accountability it just means you treat others with respect, dignity and understanding.

Courage in the important decisions of our lives is imperative to character and leadership development.  Sometimes the right path is not the easy path.  Steven Covey speaks about courage in the moment of truth; the split second decisions we make every day.  These include small decisions: "Am I going to get up and go the gym?" to very difficult decisions: "Am I going to take the keys from my friend who has been drinking too much?"  Maybe it's being a good wingman and not leaving a friend at the bar with someone they just met or speaking up when the rumor mill is spreading gossip all around us.  All of these decisions could put us in very uncomfortable positions including the possibility of being ridiculed.  However, not being courageous and intervening could have severe consequences for ourselves and others.  Courage is not easy but it is how we break the chain of a potentially catastrophic event.

Communication; everything revolves around communication.  In any organization communication is vital.  Communication comes in many forms but the most common are: written, verbal, and non-verbal.  It is important to ensure awareness of what you are communicating both verbally and non-verbally.  Typically, non-verbal is stronger than verbal.  You have heard the saying "Do what I say and not what I do."  If we are not careful, we could be sending this message and not even realizing it.  Also, be careful on "how" you speak versus "what" you speak.  It has been said, "It is not what you say but how you say it" that determines the interaction with others.  Finally, it is our responsibility to clarify something if we are not sure what is meant.  If we choose to leave a situation feeling confused or uncomfortable we may degrade the relationship or unit.  If we are unsure of what was said, or why it was said, we need to speak up and ask for clarification.

Competency, compassion, courage and communication are just a few ideas for how we better our day-to-day interactions with others.  Practice makes perfect and we have a lot of opportunities to practice each and every day.