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Recharge the batteries

  • Published
  • By Col. John Millard
  • 60th Operations Group commander
"Dad, where are the batteries?" my son yells as he runs into the kitchen with his video game controller. He throws the dead ones on the counter top, rifles through the drawer for more AAs and then runs away, back to the game at hand. I stood in amazement as this flurry of activity took merely 30 seconds and then gave pause, looking at those batteries. I wondered how long they lasted before the energy was gone. Was it six hours or six days? I should have bought rechargeable ones.

As an Air Force leader, our Airmen cannot be treated like AA batteries. They are a powerful, yet renewable resource and we have an obligation to harness their energy without simply draining and discarding them. With the ever changing world, we face new and greater challenges everyday and our Airmen consistently rise and overcome them. Like the battery, they will continue to expel their efforts to move the mission until they burn out. This is how leaders can truly take care of their people. It is our duty to make sure we don't get lost in the daily grind and take the necessary steps to recoup and recharge.

We must create a culture of resiliency, a mentality that accomplishes the mission and allows us to recharge in order to power over the next mountain. One of the four Comprehensive Airman Fitness pillars is social and provides a means to celebrate who we are from port dawgs and knuckle busters to communications and aircrew.

Creating and maintaining a resilient culture is a complex equation due to the numerous variables that fluctuate with any organization. However, one key element is to give our people a true break from the daily grind and revel in their accomplishments, savor the victories and allow the mind and spirit to relax to better prepare for what lies ahead. One week sit and socialize with your flight and tell "there I was" stories. Host a squadron burger burn or go to the bowling alley - by changing the setting and atmosphere, by socializing and celebrating within your own unit, you will be truly amazed by the camaraderie that takes place and how focused your Airmen will be the next day.

Simple breaks from our every day challenges are a great way to recharge an Airmen's and squadron's batteries. Just as a game controller runs on batteries that will eventually drain away, a unit's productivity will also have a steep decline if not recharged.

A leader must know the unit's battery life, keep an eye on the power meter and have the fortitude to stop the game and refresh for the good of their Airmen. The work still has to get done, but in order to truly be resilient, we must create an environment where we celebrate who we are and recharge ourselves from time to time.