The right side of the equal sign

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Brendan Criswell
  • 17th Training Wing Command Chief
I was always okay at math, but it took a lot of effort, and it always seemed very easy to forget. My daughter is now in sixth grade and, apparently, I was absent a lot that year. As I was helping with her homework the other night, I had to break out the calculator to check her work. Fortunately, she's better at math than I ever was, but I needed to learn what she was being taught so I could help her.

She was doing some problems where you had to solve for a variable by adding, subtracting, multiplying or dividing the values on both sides of the equal sign. As I did my Internet search to ensure I was doing it right, I started thinking about the power of that equal sign. Although the values on both sides seem so different, so independent and so alone, they were actually identical.

As a person, there is one constant in life. Quite simply, you are always you: You = you. For no matter how old you are, what you learn or what you do, you will always be you.

You as a whole are always on the left side of your equal sign. You can divide the "you" on the right side of the equal sign into lots of details. This value on the right side is the really important one since it's made up of so many variables that are not fixed and you have the power to change.

That change on the right side affects the big "You" on the left side. Unfortunately, not all of those details are as positive as they could be. We all have challenges in life and can all make improvements. I like to say "find the chinks in your armor and fix them." If what lies on the right side of your equal sign is negative, change it before it affects the "You" on the left.

Now, some may argue that's easier said than done, but they are probably the same ones who will have the most trouble balancing the equation. The first step in finding where you can improve is to assume you need to improve in everything. Understanding that no matter how good you are now, you can always be better is a philosophy that may serve you well.

Approach everything in life with a touch of analysis. How did I do there? Why did I do that? Could I have handled that better? Could I have done better? Am I where I need to be? When you see those things that are negative and can be improved, it's time to act. Let me give you some goals.

You are a terrific son, daughter, brother, sister, husband, wife, father or mother.
You = Family

You are smart, well read and a continually learning graduate of high school, college and other courses.
You = Educated

You are a highly skilled, proficient technician able to take on the toughest challenges of your craft.
You = Trained

You are a caring, compassionate and considerate person who goes the extra mile to help others.
You = Humane

You are reliable, accountable and always adhere to the standards, laws and rules.
You = Trustworthy

You are in great shape mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
You = Fit

You always do the right thing even when no one is looking.
You = Integrity First

You are willing to make sacrifices for the greater good and put the needs of others ahead of your own.
You = Service Before Self

You never hold back and ensure you do your very best no matter what task you are asked to do.
You = Excellence In All We Do

You are family, educated, trained, humane, trustworthy, fit, integrity first, service before self, excellence in all we do.
You = Airman

What's to the right of your equal sign?