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NEWS | Oct. 31, 2014

Pride and ownership: attention to detail!

By Master Sgt. Eric Cicogna 628th Force Support Squadron first sergeant

"Discipline is based on pride, on meticulous attention to details and on mutual respect and confidence. Discipline must be a habit so ingrained that it is stronger than the excitement of the goal or the fear of failure."

-Gary Ryan Blair

Drawdowns, force shaping, lack of personnel ... do more with less. It's been a common mantra since I joined the Air Force in 1997.

The fact is we still have a mission to accomplish. We still have regulations and instructions to follow, and we still cannot cut corners even if we believe we have found a better way to get a job done. We cannot shortcut safety and accountability and, we have to get things done right the first time. 

When I enlisted, "attention to detail" was the primary trait instilled in us at boot camp. Today, judging by the trends I have noticed, I wonder if some Airmen have strayed from that credo. Or, is it just a lack of pride and ownership in the job they do?

There is no sure fire, quick fix, miracle formula to inspire, motivate and or jump start morale, work attitudes and the overall productivity of your unit or element. What you can do is eliminate the "de-motivators!" 

Eliminate the de-motivators by communicating with each other, understand expectations, and know how you fit in the grand scheme. Define goals so they are well defined and everyone knows what is expected of them.

Never stop sending clear and concise signals. Everyone needs a sense of purpose; don't assume you know your role unless it's been clearly defined. A sense of purpose promotes team work and instills a huge sense of pride.

Ownership ... if you want to build a better machine, look at the mechanics that operate it. Show them where the tool box is and stand back. Recognize when people are flourishing. When people are appreciated, they are more likely to give more of themselves.

Have you become too confident in your job? Is it a lack of discipline or lack of caring? Does your work speak for itself? If you cannot personally vouch for your work with words, your actions must speak loudly. Whether you operate the lavatory service truck, fix computers, make sandwiches, turn wrenches or push dirt ... pay attention to the details. Be proud of your work. Be proud to be an Airman.

In my endless quest to get to the end of the internet, I came across Mike Rowe's (Dirty Jobs) S.W.E.A.T. pledge. It's everything I never knew I believed in and is plastered on the wall in my office for all to see. Going back to "pride, ownership and attention to detail," I'd like to share this pledge with you to consider.

1. I believe that I have won the greatest lottery of all time. I am alive. I walk the Earth. I live in America. Above all things, I am grateful.

2. I believe that I am entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Nothing more. I also understand that "happiness" and the "pursuit of happiness" are not the same thing.

3. I believe there is no such thing as a "bad job." I believe that all jobs are opportunities, and it's up to me to make the best of them.

4. I do not "follow my passion." I bring it with me. I believe that any job can be done with passion and enthusiasm.

5. I deplore debt, and do all I can to avoid it. I would rather live in a tent and eat beans than borrow money to pay for a lifestyle I can't afford.

6. I believe that my safety is my responsibility. I understand that being in "compliance" does not necessarily mean I'm out of danger.

7. I believe the best way to distinguish myself at work is to show up early, stay late, and cheerfully volunteer for every crappy task there is. 

8. I believe the most annoying sounds in the world are whining and complaining. I will never make them. If I am unhappy in my work, I will either find a new job or find a way to be happy.

9. I believe that my education is my responsibility and absolutely critical to my success. I am resolved to learn as much as I can from whatever source is available to me. I will never stop learning, and understand that library cards are free.

10. I believe that I am a product of my choices - not my circumstances. I will never blame anyone for my shortcomings or the challenges I face. And I will never accept the credit for something I didn't do.

11. I understand the world is not fair, and I'm OK with that. I do not resent the success of others.

12. I believe that all people are created equal. I also believe that all people make choices. Some choose to be lazy. Some choose to sleep in. I choose to work my butt off.