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The 'daily flap' brings morale, leadership to Total Force team

Tech. Sgt. Eric Laflin writes an inspirational quote, referred to as the “daily flap,” on an aircraft’s wing inboard flap Jan. 10, 2015, at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. Laflin began the daily flap roughly six months ago after completing the NCO professional enhancement course here to motivate and inspire Airmen in his shop. Laflin is a 141st Maintenance Squadron aircraft inspector. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Veronica Montes)

Tech. Sgt. Eric Laflin writes an inspirational quote, referred to as the “daily flap,” on an aircraft’s wing inboard flap Jan. 10, 2015, at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. Laflin began the daily flap roughly six months ago after completing the NCO professional enhancement course here to motivate and inspire Airmen in his shop. Laflin is a 141st Maintenance Squadron aircraft inspector. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Veronica Montes)

Airman Max Ramos responds to the question of the day on the “daily flap” Jan. 10, 2015, at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. The daily flap is a mentoring initiative that began about six months ago. The question of the day was, “how do you want people to remember your service?” Ramos is a 92nd Maintenance Squadron crew chief.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Veronica Montes)

Airman Max Ramos responds to the question of the day on the “daily flap” Jan. 10, 2015, at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. The daily flap is a mentoring initiative that began about six months ago. The question of the day was, “how do you want people to remember your service?” Ramos is a 92nd Maintenance Squadron crew chief. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Veronica Montes)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. (AFNS) -- When reporting for the duty day, most maintainers go to their areas, prepare for their shift and begin the day's work. Yet the day begins a bit differently for some members in the 92nd Maintenance Squadron, where an Airman found a way to motivate, inspire and lead others with just a few words of wisdom in the morning.

The 92nd and 141st MXS maintainers refer to these written words as the “daily flap.”

"Each day I walk around the aircraft, I get to see an amazing example of positive leadership. Everyday you'll see on the left wing inboard flap a ‘quote of the day’ written in chalk," said Tech. Sgt. Simon Fancher, the 92nd MXS periodic inspection section chief. "The daily flap is the first place the Airmen want to visit in the morning."

Tech. Sgt. Eric Laflin, a 141st MXS aircraft inspector, began the daily flap roughly six months ago after completing the NCO professional enhancement course. His coworkers said he is an inspiration and a leader in their team.

"I thought of how I could motivate Airmen growing their career," he said. "I started writing quotes and questions on the aircraft our shop was working on that day as a way to motivate the team. When I got this leadership knowledge in NCOPE, I knew it needed to be passed on."

Laflin's new way of leadership spread quickly throughout the unit, and everyday Airmen began to gather around the words written on the flap, which change daily. Often the words are a quote or question written in chalk. The Airmen respond to the different topics, and sometimes the 'daily flap' will be the topic of discussion the whole day.

"It's an everyday thing, we talk about it before we start work and get ourselves motivated," said Airman Max Ramos, a 92nd MXS crew chief. "(Sergeant Laflin) trains us on the aircraft, but then gives us some life quotes. It's great to gain a leadership perspective. Since it has started it has brought up morale around the shop, and gets a lot of us together and triggers our minds. Sometimes we even have a healthy debate about the question."

Laflin said he does regular research to come up with various topics that pertain to the needs of Airmen today. He makes sure to have a different topic every day and has different methods to gather information, but relies heavily on the tools and sources he has learned from professional development classes.

"I'm ecstatic people are using the information they learned in the course," said Master Sgt. Rory McKinnon, the 92nd Force Support Squadron career assistance advisor and NCOPE facilitator. "There are 21 briefings that rehone leadership and mentorship skills, along with teaching career progression and various other topics."

Laflin has been both an active-duty Airman and a guardsman during his 17 years in the military. Since 2007, he's worked in maintenance, and serves as a civilian technician during the week and a guard member on the weekends. He said he has seen the total force integration initiative turn into an enterprise at the 92nd MXS that has created a synergistic environment within their shop.

While Laflin said they have always worked together well in the shop, the daily flap brought about a greater attitude and it is now something the shop looks forward to, and said he will continue this daily project.

"These quotes, meant to inspire our Airmen, and motivate them to think critically, target the root cause of most maintenance-related incidents -- complacency," Fancher said. "These questions work in developing an intellectual mindset to truly understand what impact each Airman has on the global Air Force mission as each Airmen separately writes their answers below his question for everyone to see. These Airmen are constantly training and learning tasks, but what Laflin does is teach them how to care about the tasks they do every day. It's incredible."

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