Being an Effective Airman

Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. --

Have you ever asked yourself, how I can be a better person? How can I be more valuable? What tools can I use to be an effective and competitive Airman?

The United States Air Force has given me the ability to answer these questions by virtue of the experiences I have had throughout my years of service. When I first cross-trained from Security Forces into the Chaplain Assistant career field, I left behind a significant bonus and instead chose to follow my passion in the Chapel Management career field. I went to technical school at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.  Upon completion of technical school I arrived at my first assignment, Mountain Home AFB Idaho.  Although I was pleased with being at my new duty station, I quickly became inundated with the various tasks that needed to be accomplished in a short amount of time. I felt lost and intimidated by this new career field I had so eagerly joined. As many of Airmen before me have learned, I needed to become a better, more effective and stronger Airman, but how?

As Airmen we are charged with learning professional skills and tools that can be used in various circumstances. These skills include but are not limited to; organizational, written, time management, planning, technical, communication, and problem solving. These skills helped me get over difficult hurdles throughout my military career, education goals as well as live a more full and effective life. By learning these skills I was able to project my ideas with confidence.

The first of these skills needed are organizational skills. Organizational skills are important in order for one to complete projects efficiently and effectively. They are also useful when attempting to find items quickly. This applies to things such as parts, tools, emails, databases, filing systems and office supplies. One good method of using ones organizational skills is by creating a continuity binder for use in one’s absence. While this might be considered time consuming by some it is important to look at such tasks objectively. Once finished, a person will be more organized with a smoothly running efficient program. Consequently putting like items together for people to more easily use at a later date shows initiative and compassion for others time.

This brings us to our next skills. Written and verbal communication skills are important because they have the ability to communicate the intended message to the receiver. Practicing one’s writing skills help individuals become more proficient in their correspondence, emails, and proofreading. Improving upon one’s speaking skills requires practice, it is not something learn overnight. One of the biggest barriers people face is how individuals view their ability to speak in public therefore it is imperative they have a positive attitude towards it. This requires them to; step outside of their comfort zone, ask questions, and research solutions before giving a speech. A good way to practice one’s speaking ability is by communicating with an individual who is frustrated and de-escalates their situation simply by listening and talking to them.

I was told, if you don’t have the time then make the time! But how does one go about making time? Although there is never enough time in the day to accomplish everything, time management will help individuals prioritize those tasks that are most important.  Time is one of the most valuable resource in one’s life that cannot be given back, so it is important not to waste it. Brining one’s organizational and written skills to use is very helpful when trying to practice time management.  An example of this would be logging into one’s computer and checking the tasks they need to accomplish for the day. After doing this individuals should open their calendars or spiral notebooks and write down all tasks they need to accomplish. In the military we are used to deadlines, suspense’s and taskers therefore, individuals should be able to prioritize their efforts into first completing not only important tasks but those easiest to accomplish as well. Another example of planning ahead would be while preparing to take one’s physical training test. Airmen must get into shape while simultaneously getting their work done and attempting to enjoy a fruitful life. A good practice to use in this instance would be to break up tasks into smaller pieces and use a planner to account for available time and also track progress. “Success doesn’t just happen, it’s planned!” You can only learn from yesterday, live for today, and plan for tomorrow.

The Air Force is known for its technically proficient Airmen, therefore it is our responsibility to know our jobs and know them well. We have been accustomed to depend and rely on each other as a team rather than individuals. However, as individuals one must take all available learning opportunities to not only become technically proficient at our jobs but also in the everyday workings of our organization. An example of this would be if a copier is not functioning in the office, we don’t just give up and walk away.  We attempt to remedy the problem in order to get our job done as well as freeing up someone else’s valuable time. By troubleshooting the problem we show initiative and help our team, even if the solution is as easy as adding more paper to the machine.

This brings us to our final important skillset, problem solving. By using problem solving skills we make sure that customers’ needs are met and the mission is accomplished. By using analytical skills, creative and logical thinking we are able to formulate ideas to reach desired solutions. There are many different ways to solve problems with no clear method for all instances. Therefore, if an Airmen’s solution produces a positive conclusion then we can say the goal was accomplished.

All of these concepts and principles apply in order to manage life’s demands, and expectations. They make you a better person and more valuable to the team. By using these tools Airmen can become more effective and competent within their career fields. A positive attitude is how Airmen can project themselves to their leadership and coworkers as well-rounded Airman. By doing so they display initiative, confidence, and follow thru on tasks in an environment that has become accustomed to getting more done with ever decreasing resources.