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Know when to take the opportunity to be a leader

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- I am so proud of the Air Force. When the time comes to use their skills, Airmen are ready. When it comes to being leaders, Airmen are ready. This kind of readiness comes from taking advantage of opportunities to gain experience. Into each Airman's life come opportunities - some exciting, some not so much.

Each opportunity represents a chance to gain experience, to grow, to get ready. In many cases, Airmen have a choice. Airmen don't always have to take on new opportunities; after all, it is not always their job, right? But if Airmen do not get involved, they will lose these leadership opportunities forever.

Each Airman's experience will include a unique set of opportunities to serve. Doing these tasks will build the experience needed to sharpen judgment, discernment and leadership. Mistakes will inevitably be made. How these mistakes are handled is again a choice. Will you have the integrity to own up to the mistake? Will you take the event one step further and determine why the mistake occurred? Will you try to improve the process to prevent future mistakes? The choice of getting involved will serve you well. Fixing problems before an error occurs is even better.

Airmen should strive to maintain a balance to keep growth relatively even in all areas of life - physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Being an Airman takes a lot of giving of oneself and one's talents. Because of all of this giving, Airmen must try to surround themselves with people and activities which will revitalize them. If they don't, they may end up being less capable or their mind and body may end in a state of weakness. Airmen who find balance don't often think of themselves as leaders - but through their example they are.

That said, the Airman who stands ready to make critical decisions when it counts and is able to perform his or her duties properly under the pressure of critical moments is usually the one who took advantage of the unique set of opportunities that came his or her way. From these experiences, the Airman builds the confidence, judgment, courage and integrity needed to act professionally and become stronger leaders.

Today more than ever we need strong Airman Leaders to guide us into tomorrow - so I encourage you to jump at the next opportunity - for it is what will make you an even better Airman and leader.