GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas-- -- There comes a time in most people's career where we have to think about what we've accomplished, what we'd like to accomplish and when it's time to consider moving on. Getting promoted in the military is not automatic and requires recurring commitment by those who strive to continually progress up the ranks.

Some Airmen believe promotions are based on previous performance, but in reality the Air Force places more trust in what you're going to do once selected for promotion. You are promoted based on the work ethic shown in the documentation of your performance reports, thus the association with past performance. However, if leadership from the front line supervisor to the commander does not place value in what you are capable of doing, that limitation will be captured along the way and ultimately may impact your selection for promotion.

Also, some believe that since promotion percentages are so high, they will get promoted if they wait long enough. Although promotion rates are higher than they were 20 years ago, there is no guarantee they will remain high. Our Air Force is much smaller than it used to be and the quality of our Airmen continues to rise. With a leaner force, those who remain are highly skilled Airmen with the desire to succeed. With focus on quality force indicators like passing PT assessments, along with high year tenure changes, it takes a continuous effort by Airmen to exceed already high standards.

Commitment to promotions should start early in one's career. If you are an Airman First Class, you should already be thinking about Senior Airmen. Ask yourself, "Am I competitive for Senior Airman Below-the-Zone? Am I working on my Community College of the Air Force degree? Am I involved in the base and community? Am I good at my job?"

NCOs should already be thinking about being a Senior NCO. Are you involved in professional associations that help you grow personally and professionally? Are you an effective leader and supervisor? Have you earned any awards along the way? What about your subordinates ... are you rewarding them? Are you the expert in your job?

Promotions can be perceived as a reward to some, but honestly, promotions should motivate you to be better than you were before. I challenge each of you to strive to perform at that next level and always focus on leaving an organization better than you found it. Don't let anyone inhibit you from achieving your goals. If you worked hard for a promotion and missed the mark, look in the mirror before making excuses. Start early in developing lifelong habits ... study hard for promotions, get involved, and never stop learning! Remember, you are either green and growing, or ripe and rotting.