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Where is your focus?

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Christopher Copans
  • 17th Airlift Squadron first sergeant, 437th Airlift Wing
As I thought about writing this Diamond Tip while sitting in my office in Southwest Asia, it occurred to me there would be no better time to talk about focus.

Being in a deployed environment helps us remember what it is that we really do in the military; what is really important. Often at home station, we lose sight of what really matters because there is so much going on all around us. When you are where I am, it is clear: our focus is the mission and the people. They are interconnected and inseparable.

Unfortunately, every day we are bombarded by influences that push and pull us off course. Those influences can distract our focus and lead us farther from the accomplishment of our primary objectives. To me, maintaining a healthy focus is a daily challenge that requires a conscious effort.

Accomplishing the mission is what we are here to do. Whether your mission is maintaining communication networks or airplanes, building pallets of cargo or flying airplanes, your primary focus should be on being the best at your specific mission. If you cannot say you are an expert in your career field or striving to be one, then your focus is wavering. It should not be acceptable to just be acceptable. We need to be perfecting our work, expanding our skills and knowledge and getting better at what we are here to do, everyday. Once we have put in the effort and energy for our primary duties, then we must expand our focus to helping those around us achieve the same success.

Getting involved within our squadrons is vital to their success. Our squadrons rely on us for support; whether that is helping a co-worker in need or just helping improve the general state of our organizations in whatever way we can. It is easy to do, but can be hard to find time to do it when there are seemingly millions of other things vying for our attention. As we promote throughout our careers, our area of focus will continue to expand, producing new challenges.

As supervisors, our mission focus must extend to training and caring for our subordinates. That includes not just on-the-job training, but also task certifying, evaluating performance and enforcing standards. It means taking time to show our people the right way to do their jobs. It means active engagement in their development and passing our knowledge on to them in a manner that shows how important it is that they excel. When done right, our subordinates will be able to learn from our mistakes, instead of their own, helping them accelerate through their professional growth. Taking care of our subordinates also means helping them succeed in the broader sense in their personal or professional lives. When faced with the decision to help or to ignore, we must choose to help. That is especially important when helping is the harder option. It is easy to be there for subordinates when things are going well, but when people are truly in need we must make sure we are focusing on what is important.

Maintaining focus requires vigilance. It requires us to evaluate everything we are tasked with to determine the value added to our mission or our people. On any given day we will make countless choices. Where do we devote our energy? What gets our attention? Should we take the time for the task at hand or pack it up and go home. Whenever we are faced with those options, we must consider: where is our focus?