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A commander’s tricks of the trade

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. -- During my career, I've had the opportunity to work for phenomenal leaders; I've also had the chance to observe and discover their so-called "Tricks of the Trade" for success. Many of these tricks are straightforward; yet folks constantly ignore them, so I would like to share them with you.

1. Make every effort possible not to be late for meetings and appointments. Give yourself a cushion of at least five minutes; be on time all the time! Never be late for a meeting your boss is attending. You may want to increase your cushion time to ten minutes to ensure compliance.

2. Practice active listening. Really listen to what people are saying; to do so you must remove all of your preconceived answers, issues, and ideas; cleanse your mind to truly absorb the speaker's story. You may learn something.

3. Never interrupt your boss, even if they seem to be hesitant in their remarks.

4. When walking with someone senior to you always ensure that individual is to your right.

5. When in doubt, salute. Who cares if you accidentally salute the wrong person, and don't forget to salute staff cars. Salute and pay respect to our flag at 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

6. Be courteous and considerate. Treat people the way you want to be treated.

7. Use the manners your mother taught you. Make sure you always use the magic words, please and thank you.

8. Look good in your uniform. That includes having a clean uniform, maintaining your weight, never needing a haircut; maintaining a sharp and professional appearance; we all know in the military that first impressions count.

9. Hone your military writing skills. This is a career long process. What we write on paper is what gets our folks recognized and promoted; you may have a superstar, but if you can't convey those accolades to a board member, that Airman may not get the recognition he or she deserves.

10. Actively participate in a physical fitness regime. Go to the gym and work out. Physical fitness not only makes you look better it is also a great way to relieve stress.

11. Have fun! We are lucky enough to live in a great area with so many fun things to do; take advantage of this opportunity.

I'm sure each one of you has your own "tricks of the trade" for success. These are mine and I hope you enjoyed them.