Taking ownership in your career
By Lt. Col. Thomas Taylor, 312th Training Squadron Commander
/ Published November 03, 2011
GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
Have you noticed that if you buy or make something yourself, you tend to take better care of it than if someone else gave it to you? Honestly, do you drive a rental car like it is your own vehicle? Doesn't a home cooked meal taste better than mass produced food? When you spend your own time and resources, you should have a stronger desire to care about the outcome. Call this the feeling of ownership and it applies to being a member in the Air Force.
Welcome to the Air Force and your training at Goodfellow. The next few months will be the most challenging time of your career as you are here to learn your specialty. However, don't think for a minute your Air Force Specialty Code training is all you are receiving. These few short months in training will determine your overall success in your Air Force career.
Enlisting or taking a commission would feel much different if we all thought we were receiving a share of the Air Force that we could own. We know we have to obey orders, and the Air Force Core Values ask us to put Service Before Self. I would argue that if we all would "take" ownership, following orders is understood as required to complete the mission.
Right now, I feel I OWN my part of the Air Force. Why? Because I feel I have ownership. I want to make my piece of the Air Force better for all who follow. I will do everything I can within my power to achieve that goal. While a student at Goodfellow, you will spend most of your time in class or studying course work to learn your specialty. How you approach your school work is an indication of how you feel about this potential ownership. You have already chosen to invest your resources of time and energy into the Air Force, but have you begun a path to ownership?
Ownership does come with responsibility. Owners expect to get the most from their investments. While we all must obey orders and instructions, we should be asking ourselves if in this time of constrained resources, "are we following orders in the most efficient way?" Right now as a student you may not have the authority to change a process, but if you accept that you could own the process, you will want it to be better and recommend improvements to leaders that do have the authority to make changes.
Right now in class you should be focusing on completing your training in the most efficient way. After all, if you owned the training you are in, would you want yourself in the class? If you answer, "yes" then you are committing yourself towards the path of ownership.
As you continue your career, a time will come when you think more about what is beneficial to the Air Force and your unit than for yourself. At this point you have become full owners of the Air Force experience and you have attained the pinnacle of Service Before Self.