SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. --
If you don’t like the actions of your troops... what are you doing to inspire them to be better? Output and behavior, are in direct contrast to the tone and environment their leadership put in motion. Nothing is a life sentence...it is by learning from our failures that we become the best versions of ourselves.
Situation: My son Connor and I were sitting in the barber shop, waiting for his haircut… I overheard this individual, rather loudly, speaking with another patron about the personnel in his unit.
He looks at the other guy and says, “I’m so tired of this generation of Airman, I have no tolerance for their drama. They’re lazy. What happened to these studs reporting to us squared away and standing at attention? They all need handholding, they question too much and do too little. They have no place in my Air Force.” (Insert Bitter taste in my mouth).
#1- This is our Air Force... and this will sooner than later be their Air Force.
It took everything in me not to turn to him and say: “Sounds like it’s time for you to retire. You are obviously too lazy and consider yourself too significant to inspire those which you serve; your statement screams you have no desire to mentor, mold or guide those which lack the experience, an individual such as yourself should have. You’re an example of the reason many of our younger Airmen may question certain policies or certain “leaders” because somewhere along the way you mistook your role as a leader to be that of entitlement— you are failing to remember, much of leadership is about being servant to those in which you have been charged to lead."
Saving my son from embarrassment, I turned to him and said: “You should read an article Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth Wright posted a few weeks ago on seven truths regarding leadership.”
Shocked and most likely annoyed, I interjected my two cents.. He replied- “I don’t understand this obsession with Facebook either... it’s ruining our culture”
I kindly replied... somewhat taken back, I was about to be bold in my reply... I had already committed at this point - “I agree, there’s a conflict with balance on social media at times... but it may help us understand those Airmen which you speak so strongly about... sometimes it just takes looking through another’s perspective, to improve our own mindset about them.”
I’m sure he didn’t appreciate my interjection. I certainly wasn’t invited to the conversation, but my hope is maybe it planted a tiny seed to try and understand a younger generation. I couldn’t bear listening to his very outspoken, negative generalization regarding such an amazing group of future leaders.
Today was another reminder how genuinely grateful I am for much of the leadership I’ve served under these past 16 years. They contributed to a huge portion of who I am today.
We all deserve to be understood and appreciated, and we all deserve a mentor to guide us back on course when we get off track. We all have room for growth. We all deserve to be encouraged and inspired by our leaders to challenge us to become the best versions of ourselves...and give the best of ourselves.
NOTE: Tech. Sgt. Paus is an Air Force Reserve recruiter in Illinois, under 22nd Air Force and Air Force Reserve Command.