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Commentary: Win, lose or draw, you still win by learning

By Master Sgt. Cameron Kemp | Robert D. Gaylor Noncommissioned Officer Academy | Oct. 12, 2017

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas —

There are many correlations between being on a soccer team and being on the United States Air Force team. The recent success of the San Antonio Football Club and the U.S. national soccer teams have reignited my personal childhood passion for the sport and how its lessons learned shape our courses of action as Airmen.

 

As a child, I loved playing soccer. I loved when we won games, but sometimes my team would lose and I would learn from those losses. That love for soccer has not escaped me at this point in my life, now that I am on a new team here at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland: the U.S. Air Force.

 

When I played soccer as a child, I noticed the coach would always have some sort of game plan prior to the start of the game. During the first half of the game the effectiveness of that game plan would reveal itself. By halftime, if not sooner, the coach would modify the game plan based on what he observed on the field, then communicate these changes to the team. Depending on the players’ implementation of the changes, the outcome would be an outstanding result (three points for winning), an unsatisfactory result (no points for losing), or a satisfactory result (one point for tying, or a draw).

 

Regardless of the results, the coach always reflected on the outcome of each game to work on different game plan strategies. As Airmen, it is important for us to be observant during this process because we constantly deal with implementing multiple courses of action daily on our playing field.

 

If there is one thing you can guarantee when being a part of our U.S. Air Force team, it is that change is constant. Just like the soccer coach, you may need to change up the game plan at times. Our leaders need multiple courses of action to meet mission requirements not for “if” the plan changes, but “when” it does change. Planning for possible changes can either be a challenge, or it can aid us, as Airmen, when implementing a change to our current course of action.

 

In any type of sport, there are instances where players may act in a manner interpreted as unsportsmanlike or unprofessional. These behaviors are sometimes demonstrated during changes to the game plan. As Airmen, we must constantly ask ourselves when dealing with changes to the game plan, or the course of action, “Am I demonstrating the appropriate behavior to ensure the greatest chance of success?” In the end, win, lose or draw is irrelevant. If we react emotionally instead of professionally to game plan changes, we may miss an opportunity to grow our breadth of experience.

 

Our Air Force team tends to mirror our civilian society at times. Instant gratification and living in the moment can sometimes be the priorities in our society. The temporary appeal of short-term results is enticing; however, we should all want to be like that soccer coach who reflects on the outcome of a game. That reflection is about learning for the future.

 

I can assure you, in the future, you will be involved in situations where the learning process will develop your experience. What we learn determines our future success. The more we grow as Airmen by embracing change and performing professionally, the more we will win. 

Win, lose or draw, it is a win when you learn.