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Chief’s Corner - week of Aug. 7

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Initiative

One thing I've observed that is an important part of being a leader is initiative. Although there are many definitions of the word, the one that addresses the concept well is from Merriam-Webster.com: "energy or aptitude displayed in the initiation of action." Key to this definition is the word "action." People with initiative make things happen--without having to be told. There are many examples of initiative, but I will focus on just three: initiative on the job, initiative with people and initiative to develop yourself and others. All of these can be equally important, but most Airmen can relate to the first, initiative on the job.

On the job is where initiative is not just nice to have, it is critically important. In these times, our Air Force needs Airmen who are people of action. It is nice to say the right things, but it is much better to do the right things. There are opportunities in every job to improve a process or eliminate waste. They don't all have to be full blown projects, some can be easy fixes. Taking the time to determine if a task is still needed is another important example of initiative--especially in recent times. Initiative on the job requires much more than meeting a standard. Initiative on the job blazes a path for those who follow and for things to come. Our future operations depend on it, along with the people who make it happen.

Initiative is vitally important with people. Today, we are faced with many challenges on the job, which siphon our time away from the most important resource: people. Taking the initiative with people can be as simple as asking what is wrong when someone appears distressed, and then taking action to help them. Another example of initiative with people is offering unsolicited help to people during a life struggle. People remember the times you stand beside them and will not forget it. Not only does this kind of initiative create a bond, it represents being a true wingman--invariably changing someone's life in a positive way. People are always a good investment of your time.

Initiative to develop yourself and others is very important. Self-development, whether a college class, attending a base professional development event or learning what your co-workers do are all important ways to prepare for future responsibilities. Perhaps more important is taking initiative to develop others. We all started somewhere and have had mentors who helped us get to where we are today. Leaders challenge their people with tasks and situations that require them to step out of their comfort zone and grow. This form of initiative is purposeful to shape our future Airmen to be leaders. It requires caring, energy and effort. We are all warming the seat for someone else, so development and mentoring are a must if we are to remain the world's best Air Force.

Initiative and action are inseparable. Action and hard work are critical parts of initiative. Initiative on the job, with people and development are just a few ways that initiative is important. Regardless of the situation, initiative is a defining quality that always stands out. Simply put, initiative is what separates the good from the great. Airmen of Schriever AFB, strive to be great--and make things happen.
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