'Like a Rock'

  • Published
  • By SMSgt. Richard Potocki
  • 45th Medical Support Squadron Superintendent
     Our third President, Thomas Jefferson, is renowned for many inspirational quotes, but one that stands out for me is "In matters of style, swim with the current. In matters of principle, stand like a rock".
     Swimming with the current could be compared to the path of least resistance and probably the course many of us follow in routine matters every day. For trivial matters this is the least stressful way to approach life, to go with the flow.
     But as we progress through our military career we will eventually find ourselves challenged to "stand like a rock" on matters of real importance. When pressured to "swim with the current" by your peers on a decision to take a shortcut or curtail policy, most of us will do the right thing.
     But, how would you react if the pressure is coming from your chain of command? Standing like a rock becomes more complex when in a disagreement with your leadership. Every military professional will tell you it is acceptable to disagree with your boss.
     When faced with opposing ideas on how to handle a situation, standing up to your chain takes on additional importance. You should expect the confrontation. Although you may not "win" the exchange, I have found that most bosses will come to appreciate the passion of your point of view.
     A former boss of mine and I disagreed on numerous issues. We would candidly discuss the topic behind closed doors. At times I "won" and other times he was the victor, but we listened to each other's ideas. Once we left the office, we left with a single consistent message. There were times I thought I would be fired. He felt those that always agreed with him were not really adding to the well being of the squadron.
     Whether you call it "taking one for the team" or "falling on your sword," I challenge all of you to do what is right. In matters of principle, "stand like a rock" for what is right, we will continue to be part of the best Air Force in the world.