Seize the chocolates

  • Published
  • By Capt. Jeffery H. Taylor
  • 341st Security Support Squadron Commander
As a wise mother once said, "Life is like a box of chocolates, Forrest.  You never know what you're going to get."  Most of us can relate to this truth.  Things happen that throw our lives off of "the plan."  For example, when I was five, "the plan" was to become a space-faring, fire/crime-fighting pirate.  Then growing up happened.  More recently, I was selected to take command of the 341st Security Support Squadron.  This was a piece of chocolate I wasn't expecting.  It wasn't part of "the plan" that was handed to me in the form of the security forces officer career field pyramid chart!  Yet, perhaps this is what Mrs. Gump meant - that life is full of unknown challenges that bring with them some unique opportunities that we need to recognize, pursue and maximize. 

Do you remember road trips before the advent of the on-board GPS and the smart phone?  During that era, I had to use road atlases to plan for long road trips.  I'd have to plan which roads to take, where I wanted to stop, how far I was willing to detour to witness the world's largest ball of yarn, et cetera.  But, I always needed to know my destination before I knew what route I needed to take.  Such is life - you have to have a general idea of what your life ambitions are before you can recognize those big opportunities.  So, spend some time evaluating who you are and what you stand for.  Know your strengths and weaknesses.  Set some attainable goals.  This knowledge of yourself will inevitably arm you with the compass required to recognize opportunities as they come your way.

Make your own luck.  According to the Roman philosopher Seneca, "Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity."  Be prepared when that big opportunity falls in your lap; or better yet, work hard and create the situation that will give you the opportunities you seek.  From my limited experience, I've found that no worthy opportunities have resolved themselves without any effort on my part - every single opportunity taken required some amount of preparation beforehand.  Want to run in the Air Force Marathon?  Better log the miles.  Want to become an executive chef?  Better get the experience.  Want to become a chief master sergeant?  Better start doing all those things chiefs have to do.  Often times, the worthiest goals and opportunities require the most amount of work and preparation.  It might be tough; but, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

You've successfully recognized and pursued this great opportunity... so now what?  Well, my friends, I've got only one acronym for you - YOLO (you only live once).  I'm not sure if YOLO is still trendy, but I remember when it was all the rage back in the day.  I agree with the core concept of YOLO- when presented with an opportunity, don't waste it!  Instead, make the most of every opportunity available to you to include those that you may not have asked for.  Those great opportunities in life may not happen all that often, so make each one count!

By now, you may be thinking "What does this young captain know about life and goals and opportunities?"  I'll be the first to admit that I'm still figuring it out and that it's easier written than done.  I'll also admit to more wasted opportunities than I care to remember and to days where I'm not so YOLO.  But as I venture into command, I'll be maximizing this opportunity to work with some of the outstanding Airmen that can be found within 341 SSPTS and within Wing One.  What about you?

"To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents.  What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour."
- Winston S. Churchill