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NEWS | July 30, 2014

How will you spend your dash?

By Chief Master Sgt. Mark Bronson 628th Air Base Wing command chief

I recently returned from two weeks leave visiting family and friends in upstate New York. It had been almost two years since I was home last. When I go home I always make it a point to visit my parents' gravesite and talk to them about what is new in my life. As I looked on their headstones and walked around visiting other family members' graves, it brought to mind the poem by Linda Ellis entitled "The Dash." If you've never read the poem I challenge you to do so.

While they engrave your dates of birth and death onto your grave marker, what the poem points out is what truly matters is the "dash" between those dates. What did you do with the time you had however long or short it was? Did you have a positive impact on others? Did you utilize your talents to the best of your ability? Did you leave a legacy to be proud of?

That got me thinking about how we also have a bunch of little "dashes" in our lives. For example, if you have had more than one assignment in your career, you have probably received departing gifts from your coworkers as you left your base. Many times they have the date you arrived in the unit and the date you departed separated by a dash. As I looked around my office at gifts I received; sure enough there was that dash. It made me reflect on my time in those units. Had I made the most of my "dash?" Did I have a positive impact on those I interacted with? What did people say about my work ethic? Did they know I lived the Air Force core values and would not waiver from them? Did I take care of those entrusted under my leadership?

I challenge you to read that poem and reflect on what you want your "dash" to represent. What will the small "dashes" say about you? Be the person that will be remembered. Be the person that others use to gauge great leadership, a hard work ethic, compassion for others and genuine care for those you are entrusted to lead. Be the person that lives the core values and will not waiver from those values regardless of how hard that might be at times. The beauty is when you strive to make the small "dashes" count, they contribute to making the most of your final "dash."

I believe life is a marathon, not a sprint. Each of our marathons are different lengths but we determine how we will run them. Ultimately, we determine how we spend our "dash."