Core values part of everyday life

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Walter Gibbons
  • 341st Civil Engineer Squadron Commander
Whether we realize it or not, the Air Force core values are at the center of our decision-making process in everything we do, or at least they should be.  We all make conscious, and many times, unconscious daily decisions that guide us through life ranging from menial tasks at home with our friends and families, to actions at work that affect the personnel we work with and the security of our nation.

Let's break this down.  Integrity is the first core value for good reason.  It defines who we are and it is obvious when someone does not have it.  Integrity can mean speaking up for something you know is right even if it's not "popular."  This can be difficult and takes courage to stand up and do, especially if it is not the socially accepted way to go.  Exhibiting integrity can be something as small as returning something that is not yours to someone who lost it.  Or, it could mean being fiscally responsible for purchasing items within the shop.  With Force Improvement Program funding flowing freely, it could be easy to go overboard and purchase items that are not necessarily needed just because we have the money to do it.  Integrity provides a solid foundation for the other two core values.

Service before self is our second core value.  By nature, most AF members are selfless and put others first.  How many times have you been enjoying quality time with your family or friends on your day off and have been recalled or have to respond to an after-hours emergency in your area of expertise?  It probably happens more often than not for many of us, but it's what we do. We understand what we signed up for when we enlisted, received our commission or accepted a Department of Defense civilian position.  The AF way of life is not a regular "day job" that your friends from high school may be doing.  It is a higher calling and that is why you are the one percent of the U.S. population that volunteered to serve your country.

Excellence in all we do is our third core value.  We all strive to be better each day - better wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, mothers, fathers, friends, Airmen, supervisors, subordinates and just be a better person - you get the idea.  It is human nature.  We don't wake up in the morning and say, "I plan to be a terrible spouse today or really screw something up at work."  Granted, everyone has a bad day every now and then where we don't feel 'in the game' or don't feel like being there.  It's ok to be a human being.  If you see your buddy having a bad day, you can approach them and ask what's going on.  This is also exhibiting excellence, as we look out for each other.  In my opinion, excellence comes as second nature if the first two core values are internalized.

I firmly believe that if you consciously think about your Air Force core values in every decision you make and apply it to everyday life, you will make the right decision.  I give this analogy at every one of my squadron orientations when new folks permanently change station to the Big Sky Engineer family.  These values are universal and apply on or off-duty.  If everyone thought just for a second about how the act they were planning to do would affect others, then our squadron first sergeants and commanders would have an easy job, not to mention our homes would be better places to live.  We all cannot be at the top of our game in every aspect, every day, but collectively, we should tend toward that direction.  If you see someone who is lacking in an area, call them out and help them correct it.  Many times that is all that is needed.  If you don't see improvement after you have tried to help them correct it, push it up your chain of command for action.  With the force reduction, there is no room for folks who treat this way of life as a "day job."