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Chief's Corner - week of Jan. 30

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Career focus

Many years ago, I spoke to an Airman Leadership School class and we discussed the similarities of an Air Force career and a camera. The similarities are amazing, with one significant difference.

Today's digital cameras can be as hard or as simple as you want them to be. If you put a camera on auto-focus, it makes all of the adjustments and decisions for you. You should talk to an expert and get some advice and mentoring if you are not happy with the result. Once educated, you can switch to manual focus and make the adjustments yourself.
Your career can be as hard or as simple as you want it to be. You can allow the system to make all of the adjustments and decisions for you. You should seek advice and mentoring from an expert. Here's where the similarities end. Once decisions are made, the chances of adjusting are minimal at best.

Air Force supervisors are charged with being like an expert manager at a camera store. If we allow our Airmen to leave their careers on auto focus, the most career-impacting decisions may be blurred in their view finder. Mentor your Airmen on where their focus should be at key times in their career, before the decisions is needed, to ensure they are ready to make the best call for themselves and the Air Force. Timing and balance play a huge role in success. Help them to learn from your successes and failures.

We are at a critical time in the Air Force. The balance between keeping valued team members and meeting budgetary constraints has hit a crossroad. Our Airmen are the Air Force's most valuable resource; don't let their focus be clouded by what's in their most clear view. Be that Air Force expert and teach the art of "educated manual focus."
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