First Impressions

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Steven Cuneio
  • 23d Wing Chapel

Let me ask you all a question: As a leader, have you ever formed a quick impression of an Airman before they said or did anything?

Essentially, the quick impression is based on how you size them up, how they look to you, and then you quickly conclude by saying to yourself, “I don’t think that Airman is what I need for the mission.”

It’s probably human nature for all of us to entertain thoughts like that at one time or another. Well, last week, we celebrated Diversity Day and I thought of this story that I heard some time ago.

Former broadcaster, Dan Betzer, once told this wonderful story about first impressions. 

Some years ago, Dan took a day off to play golf with a local pro. And as he entered the clubhouse, Mike, the local pro, met him with a little 12-year old Asian girl named Michelle Shin. Dan's first impression was great disappointment when Mike told him Michelle would be playing with them. All he could think of were missed shots and a very slow game.

On the first tee Mike hit a straight 290 yard drive. And then Dan hit his normal 200 yard shot. Now, it was the little girl’s turn to step up for her drive. And without a practice swing, she smacked the ball straight as an arrow 250 yards.

Mike looked at Dan and said, "She's gonna be a pro someday." That day, she shot a round of 78. Dan's score? He says, "I don't really think it's any of your business." Before becoming a professional golfer, Michelle Shin went on to win many awards in high school and in college. When given a chance, Michelle made a good first impression, which caused Dan to change his.

First impressions! We must always be careful. Yes, you never know who you might get as an Airman in your unit, but they very well could be one of the greatest Airman you have the privilege to lead as we fulfill our mission of attack, rescue and prevail.