More than talent accomplishes a mission; work as one team

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Beverly Johnson
  • 437th Medical Operations Squadron commander
"Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships."
-- Michael Jordan

As we have trimmed our Air Force down, I have seen an improvement in the quality of Airmen. We no longer have room for individuals who want to take the easy way out. Most of us are here because we want to be and we are not afraid of the challenges we face. The Air Force demands more from each and every Airman and we have been blessed to have so many talented Airmen among us. But it takes more than talent to accomplish our mission.

Most of us want to do more than "just get by." We strive to be the best we can. Regardless of the job you have or the pay you bring home, knowing that you have done your best makes you feel secure about yourself. It's that insight which motivates us to do better ... to move toward being the best. When you realize your potential and take advantage of your skills, you stand out from others in your career field.

One day, you will meet your match, someone who is clearly better than you. That can be inspiring if it is someone senior to you or someone with more experience or education. These are perfect role models, something to aspire to. But what if someone subordinate to you or someone new to your section walks in and steals the show? What if that new senior airman just solved your scheduling issue? Or that new captain just introduced some new technology to reduce errors and make the office more efficient and the boss is now patting them on the back? You may be jealous or anxious. Anxiety is natu¬ral and, in many ways, very neces¬sary in our lives. It can motivate us ... pressure us to do better and move closer to our potential. But if it's not kept in check, that anxiety becomes unmanageable and can deter the mission and our effectiveness.

Accept that "better person;" learn from them. Each person brings different talents or skills to work. Sometimes a new set of eyes can see better through the distracters and quickly find a solution. Sometimes life experiences have given some people better problem-solving skills. Accepting each other for what you are and what you can be will make the team more effective.

We each have a job to do, but that doesn't mean we do it alone. We can't. We should do the best we can. At the same time, we should encourage, motivate, cajole or simply kick our teammates in the butt to get them to do the same. And if a teammate does better than you, get out of their way!

The person who achieves the greatest success is usually not the person with the strongest individ¬ual skills. More than likely, it is the person who can recognize the talents in others, who can merge those talents into a team and exploit them to their fullest. The team that achieves the greatest success is the team that uses individual talent to exponentially effect mission accomplishment.