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Commentary: Run as if your career depends on it!

By Tech. Sgt. Jaqualene Taylor | Robert D. Gaylor Noncommissioned Officer Academy | Sept. 28, 2017

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas —

Are you running as if your military career depends on it, or do you put the same effort into your military career as you do on your run?

At the Noncommissioned Officer Academy here at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, my fellow instructors and I encourage our students not to stop when they are running, unless of course, they sustain an unforeseen injury. Pushing through uncomfortable times and challenges help build resilient Airmen.

As instructors, we continue to run, with enthusiasm, because Airmen are watching our every move and yours as well. There will be times in life when we face challenges. Whether it is a daunting tasker, a physical training test, or personal issues, all of us have faced them at one point in our careers. When that happens, it makes reporting for duty that much harder.

In every NCOA class, we complete a 3.1-mile run with our students to boost esprit de corps and enhance our fitness levels. It sounds simple, right? Well, for the instructors and most students, it is easy. For some of our students, however, this task is difficult.

I have noticed there are four types of runners. There are those who start fast and burn out half way into the run. There are those who start slow, walk, then run, then walk again. There are those who keep a steady pace from start to finish, and there are those who complete the run, twice, before others ever reach the finish line. I cannot help but wonder if they put the same effort into their Air Force careers as they do this run?

If you associate running to a military career, how do you treat your career? Alternatively, what type of runner are you? Are you the person who works hard in bursts, then slows down, or do you take a more relaxed approach when you feel the pressure? Are you that person who puts in quality work, half of the, time and only when people are watching you do you perform at your best? Are you that person who is dependable and always ready to get the job done?  Do you have the natural ability to succeed at any task thrown your way?  Whatever type of effort is put into the job, there are a variety of physical fitness and tactical problems we, as members of the Armed Forces, face daily in our careers.

I never heard of someone training to run short burst just to stop to walk. Nor have I seen someone train to run slow, walk, run, and then walk again. However, I have seen people train to maintain a steady pace and train to run faster and yes, even two times around. These people have built up endurance. In order to be great at anything we do, we need to be able to withstand conditions for a long period. If not, we burn out fast.

Much like running, endurance is required in our military careers. We have to train our mind, body and spirit to withstand the massive workloads. At the same time, we need to find time to give to our families and our health. Without support and health, we can only last in short bursts. When the workload gets too much for too long, we may crack or stop running during a 5K. However, with the support of a team, friends, family, coworkers and mentors, we can withstand the pressure.

It is important to have the support of a team when running because sometimes those walkers do not realize their own potential until a team member comes back to help them or encourage them to get to the finish line. In our units, we may not see our own potential. However, sparking the match, turning a walker into a runner, is what matters most and ultimately, gets the job done.

At the end of the day, real success does not come easily. You have to work for it, some harder than others. Just when you think you have earned it, you may still fall short because there’s more work to do to reach your finish line. A positive attitude can keep you focused during difficult times.

When I see the NCOs run all the way to finish line, whether it is fast or slow, this tells me they have passion, resiliency, determination, motivation, and pride in themselves and the Air Force. These qualities bleed into our work centers and produce electrifying results especially when the energy rubs off on their teammates.

It does not matter how fast or slow you go, just as long as you do not give up. Our Airmen depend on us to push them through. It is important to show them if we can do it, so can they. Treat your career as you would when you run your next 5K, 10K, or physical fitness test. If you put forth your best effort in all you do, you will meet your goals with less resistance and dreams can become a reality. Always remember, run as if your career depends on it!