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NEWS | Aug. 6, 2010

Attitude vs. Aptitude

By Senior Master Sgt. John Flynn Jr. 316th Civil Engineer Squadron

Being a true professional in today's Air Force has less to do with an individual's skill or ability and more to do with having a positive approach to the daily challenges that confront them. There is no doubt that the young men and women volunteering to serve today are more intelligent and technologically savvy than those of a generation ago, but that in and of itself does not guarantee success. A positive attitude is an essential piece of a career in the Air Force and necessary for us to remain the most superior Air and Space Force in the world.

I believe that we as leaders can set the tone by personally having positive attitudes, and encouraging our Airmen to have the same. It seems that people are sometimes content in their own misery and there is little or nothing that you can do to change them. I disagree with this. I think that you can find good in just about every situation, and turning almost any negative into a positive is not that complex of a process. How an individual views a situation can determine their attitude towards it, example: you wake up to discover it is pouring rain and are mad because your barbeque plans are ruined. That same morning a local farmer wakes to find it is raining and is over the moon because this will provide much needed water for his crops, and he will be able to provide for his family. It is up to us to help our Airmen see the good in what they perceive to be a bad situation. Putting a positive spin on a negative situation requires some creativity, but it starts off with simply making a choice.

Every day that you wake up you have a decision to make, and that is whether or not to have a positive outlook on life. You can't choose to be smarter, taller, or younger but you can make a conscientious decision be positive. I have coached a number of sports teams and one thing I have found is that a winning team is less receptive to criticism, regardless of how bad they are playing. However, as soon as they lose they become so much more open minded and want to learn. So even in defeat they were receptive to input from me, ideas to help them be better, but only because I had a positive outlook and it rubbed off on them. I have taken this same approach to my role as a supervisor and leader in the Air Force. Instead of looking at a tough situation negatively I choose to look at it as an opportunity to learn, improve, or teach. I simply made a conscious decision to remain positive. Your experiences throughout your military careers are no different and you should share these life lessons with your Airmen who might be struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We all periodically have to experience a bad day to have an appreciation for a good one but remaining positive will help keep those bad days to a minimum.

Leading edged technology and superior intellect alone do not make us the most superior Air and Space Power in the world. It is the positive attitudes and conscientious decisions of our men and women serving in the Air Force today that refuse anything short of excellence in all they do that separates us from the rest. A well balanced mixture of positive attitudes and superior aptitude is a recipe for success that will keep our Air Force where it belongs, on top. Like I said earlier we can't choose to be smarter but we can choose to be that positive example that our Airmen need.