Strengthening your core

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Nicole Maul
  • 387th Expeditionary Support Squadron
(Editor's note: Staff Sgt. Nicole Maul is assigned to the 23rd Force Support Squadron at Moody Air Force Base, Ga.)

Everyone is familiar with the Air Force's core values: Integrity first, Service before self and Excellence in all we do.

Too often, we use these terms loosely in a sarcastic or playful manner, but I challenge you to stop and think about what the core values truly represent. We hear these words time and time again, but do we really listen?

The Air Force isn't looking for men and women of perfection, but elite individuals who possess the motivation to be the very best that they can be each and every day. It takes 100 percent effort from every Airman.

Integrity starts with you. It is a conscious character trait, a choice to do the right thing even when no one is looking. If you're privileged to be a supervisor, lead by setting the example. Your Airmen are counting on you.

When you wear the uniform, wear it correctly and do so with pride. It seems that somewhere along the way, we've lost the courage to remind each other of the proper wear. Knowing and ignoring that someone is doing something wrong makes us guilty of not doing the right thing ourselves.

Despite the evolution of today's Air Force and the challenges that I have faced during my nine years of service, one thing has remained constant; serving in the world's greatest Air Force has always been a privilege, not a right.

Service before self is defined as one's professional duties taking precedence over personal desires. It is having discipline and self-control.

Former Secretary of the Air Force Sheila Widnall said, "The Air Force requires a high level of professional skill, a 24-hour-a-day commitment and a willingness to make personal sacrifices. Unfortunately, we've all seen what happens when people forget that basic tenet. Examples of careerism and self-interest are present at every level, but they do the most damage when they are displayed by the leader. If the leader is unwilling to sacrifice individual goals for the good of the unit, it's hard to convince other unit members to do so. At that point, the mission suffers and the ripple effects can be devastating."

Lastly, I challenge you to showcase excellence. I personally have had the opportunity to be surrounded by an elite force of individuals who motivate me daily to put forth my best. Whether it is your career development courses or fitness testing and whether you are a trained combat controller or personnelist, I challenge you to do the same.

Once your personal best has been attained, don't stop there. Push yourself to become greater; not necessarily for the good of yourself, but the entire organization, the mission, the Air Force and our country. Never congratulate mediocrity and always reward excellence.

No airman is exempt. All Airmen, enlisted and officers, must be accountable for themselves and their wingman. The core values are more than the minimum standard.

They inspire us to do our very best at all times. Know them, follow them and most importantly, live by them. If we each do our part and strengthen our core, we will never falter and we will not fail.