Success with Honor

GOODFELLOW AFB, Texas -- "Success without honor is like unseasoned food; it may satisfy your hunger but it will leave a bad taste in your mouth." Joe Paterno

Joe Paterno has won more games than any other college coach in history with 383 wins and counting. It would be an understatement to say he knows something about success. His thought on success goes straight to the heart of the military ethos. Our achievements are only valuable due to the manner, due to the methods, that we earn them.

In the military we often define ourselves through our successes. Walk into any military service member's office and the first thing you will probably notice is the plaques and awards decorating the walls. Likewise, you can track a person's career through the ribbons on their uniform. Recognizing achievement is a part of our military culture. However, all of these are just the symbols of success.

When we work hard and achieve excellence, we appreciate it when our peers and supervisors recognize us for our effort. The actual plaque, trophy, ribbon or medal does not matter as much to us as what those things represent; the gratitude and appreciation of others.

You can probably remember a time when you really dug in and got the job done. If you received recognition it probably felt really good, regardless of whether it was a chuck on the shoulder or a parade in your honor. An Airman's basic military training ribbon, the Air Force Training Ribbon, is an example of a small symbol for something an Airman knows they worked very hard to achieve. Its value is not in the threads of the ribbon, but in the sweat an Airman leaves at Lackland.

However, on the flip side, you may also have had a time when you did not give your all. You may have gone through the motions and did the minimum possible. If it happened that you received recognition, I doubt it made you feel good. If you knew you could have done more, the accolades may have embarrassed you or you may have been cynical about the award.

When we are proud of our accomplishments we post the symbols, the plaques and trophies, up in our offices and workspaces. If we receive recognition that we don't feel we deserve, the symbols collect dust on a bookshelf or in a closet back home.

In the military it is pretty easy to work hard and truly earn your achievements. We have the most dangerous and challenging jobs in the world. On top of that, each service has core values that help point us in the right direction whenever we need guidance. Work hard, follow the core values, and you will be very proud of your achievements represented by the plaques on your walls are upon your discharge or retirement. That is success with honor.