Professionalism, integrity, humility -- difference between ‘Good and Great?’|
Commentary by Lt. Col. Jeff Smith
47th Operations Support Squadron commander
7/5/2005 - LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFPN) -- Why does the Air Force continually attempt to mentor, develop and shape us as Airmen?
It’s not because the Air Force needs good men and good women; rather, it’s because the Air Force needs great men and great women. We need individuals willing to take the personal tools that we've been given and diligently forge them into skills of greatness. Not greatness for ourselves, but greatness for service…service to humanity.
As I reflect on the great men and women that I have been honored to serve with, I have noticed three distinctive characteristics that make the difference between good and great: Professionalism, Integrity, and Humility.
Professionalism is ensuring that the job we are given is done right. When we complete a task, we must be willing to sign our name to it and consider it a personal beacon, a reflection of who we are and what we bring to the fight. Our deeds define our reputation and our reputation defines our lives.
Our professionalism is measured every day by the passion in which we seek lasting solutions and by the spirit of excellence that we demand of ourselves and of those around us.
Do not be fooled. When the uniform comes off and the duty day is over, professionalism does not get hung in the closet. Our professionalism is not defined by the clock on the wall; rather it is defined by who we are every moment of every day. Whether in blues in parade, BDUs in battle, or jeans at a club downtown, we must all reflect a beacon of professionalism that cannot be extinguished.
If professionalism is doing the job right, then integrity is doing the right job. While professionalism is a beacon of our lives, integrity is the banner of our heart. A man or woman who cannot be trusted will not ever reach the level of greatness that our military calling requires.
My father taught me that it takes a long time to build trust and only a moment to lose it. Our lives, what we say, what we sign, and what we claim to believe cannot be laden with folly. In our profession, there is simply too much at stake. Instead, we must build a banner of integrity that is beyond reproach, beyond question.
Finally, it is the virtue of humility that will lead our lives to greatness. We are taught to “do nothing out of vain conceit or selfish ambition, but in humility consider others greater than ourselves.”
A man without humility risks intoxication by his own perceived power. True greatness, the kind of greatness needed throughout our military service, will only be found in those rare individuals that seek wise council, admit when they are wrong, and allow others to take the credit for success.
Professionalism, Integrity, Humility: characteristics that empower our ability to serve. Our individual challenge is to continually develop and improve all three. They simply make the difference between good and great.