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Leadership recalibration PME style

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Larlee
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
If I have learned anything in more than 30 years of life it is how to deal with being wrong. Even with the best intentions, I miss the mark a lot more than I like. The frequent lessons in humility have made me well versed in admitting when I'm wrong. In the case of the NCO Academy I can happily admit I am way off-base.

The requirement to attend the NCO Academy is something I was apprehensive about. I was signed up for it before, but got pulled due to a deployment. I honestly was at the point where I just wanted to check the box and be done with it. I would have been happy if I just learned one or two things there that were useful. I was skeptical that would be the case.

I attended the Airey NCO Academy at Tyndall AFB, Fla., and I decided to drive down there. During the long trip, I started motivating myself and became determined that if the class was a waste it would not be from a lack of effort or enthusiasm on my part.

The class quickly proved to be definitely worth my time. I found a lot of the lesson plans to be quite useful information. I was also lucky to have a great instructor Tech. Sgt. Jason Ramon. It is always an inspiring sight to see someone perform a craft they have honed to perfection. He had a lot of enthusiasm for the material but also balanced that with sometimes the perfect ideal isn't possible. He also had a knack for taking lesson principles and injecting them into real world situations. My favorite was how an NFL quarterback uses change management and has to be resilient after experiencing a failure on the gridiron. He was constantly adding things he learned from his students to better communicate the lesson principles.

I was also blessed with a great set of classmates. They were a very solid group of professionals that I would love to be able to work with again. We just clicked as a group and took care of our business. We worked hard, but we played hard at the same time. We established friendly nicknames for everybody and had some great outings to check out the local Florida area. We were just at ease with each other and kept a sense of humor when things didn't go right. We even bought a class mascot that was the envy of the school. I made a lot of good friends that I will remember for a lifetime.

The class room was decorated to honor Master Sgt. Angela Blue who earned the Purple Heart during her deployment to Afghanistan in 2011. During breaks and slow periods I would look at the wall and the photos. It struck me that at any given time you could be called on to do something heroic. I had to wonder if I would be ready to lead and take care of business if I was placed in that situation. The room design was one piece of the course's intent to promote introspection. We also did weekly essays on what we learned in the previous week and were encouraged to talk about how we could incorporate the lesson plans into our daily routines.

This type of self-reflection was an additional benefit of the class. Removed from the deadlines and the unplanned fires that sprout up during the day here at Dover AFB, I had a chance to really look at how I conduct business. If you are being totally honest with yourself that look in the mirror should never be a totally comfortable experience. It really helped me to pinpoint the things I can work on and improve in the future.

After graduating and saying goodbye to my friends, I had a different mindset on the drive back to Delaware. I was processing the new information and excited to use some of the new things I have learned.

Sometimes being wrong can be a good thing.