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Home : News : News
NEWS | Nov. 27, 2018

Commentary: Getting in the habit of excellence

By Lt. Col. Dear Beloved 637th International Support Squadron

Each year over 35,000 civilians cross the blue line and embrace the Air Force Core Values of Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do.  Today, let us consider excellence. Excellence easily translates into visible action. A lack of excellence cannot be concealed over time. No position, duty-title or special project will make you excellent. If I had to reduce it to a single thought for new military members, the habit of excellence means doing the routine, routinely well.


Do you show up on time? Do you meet deadlines? Do you produce quality work? Do you push through all the way to the finish line? It might seem easy but not everyone does it. Sometimes peer pressure discourages one from excellence, from reliable performance.


At Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Gateway to the Air Force, ask a trainee or new Airman how he/she is doing, and a common response will be, “Excellent, sir/ma’am!” Validation of this response comes easily if an Airman’s uniform looks sharp, if the correct reporting statement is used, and if customs and courtesies are prompt and accurate. Yet not all new Airmen meet those routine expectations, nor do some higher ranking members.


If you attended basic training, were you ever asked by your peers, “Why are you being so stract?”


According to Urban Dictionary, stract means “overly concerned with standards and minute detail.”


That sounds like excellence.


At times, excellence may feel like a burden or it may seem to be uncool. Yet, herein exists the enduring challenge of excellence.


Eighty percent of those around you may not notice or appreciate your habit of excellence, but the remaining twenty percent will appreciate it, whether you realize that or not. Then that higher position, duty-title or special project will be a natural byproduct of an enduring habit.


Reverse peer pressure, where peers start to follow you, can be another byproduct of excellence.  Excellence is a shared responsibility for Airmen – Excellence in All WE Do.


We operate in a collective where the excellence of each Airman plugs into a joint warfighting enterprise. The Air Force’s signature icon of pilots in aircraft in the sky manifests both individual and team excellence, and our (We) excellence is every bit as important as I-excellence.


The collective is as strong as the weakest link or the individual. Those who, at first, did not appreciate one’s habit of excellence, may be encouraged to excel at the next opportunity.  When a wingman or fellow Airman falters in the pursuit of excellence, be the first to step up and say, “We depend on you, Airman. Your service and contribution can make this happen for everyone. The team depends on your best effort.”


In closing, make excellence a habit now. Don’t save it for that big opportunity that remains just beyond reach. Don’t save it up for when you think someone is looking. Excellence precedes opportunity and success.  Make excellence a habit and the rest takes care of itself.