Own your piece of the Air Force today

  • Published
  • By Maj. Edward Liberman
  • 17th Civil Engineer Squadron commander
Having years of mentorship experience as an Air Force Civil Engineer, I've heard many philosophies on how to become a better Airman and leader. Each philosophy held its own unique keys to success, however, one in particular hit home with me - ownership.

Fourteen years ago, as a new "butter-bar" lieutenant, I was humbled by the complexity and monstrosity of the Air Force organization. How it functioned was a mystery to me and I felt a very small part of it. I put forward my best effort and worked my bosses' priorities every day, but I couldn't help but wonder if I was making a difference. Then, something changed. I understood the difference between doing a job and taking ownership of it. I understood the need to claim my piece of the Air Force and "own" it.

I can best explain this as the feeling when you buy your first car or home. There's something different. You're no longer borrowing a friend's car or renting someone else's house. The difference is that it's yours and it's likely that no one else cares for it more than you do.

Ownership in the Air Force reveals itself in many ways. The key is defining your part of it; the area that you can influence and commit to taking responsibility for. I use the example with our craftsmen of driving by a pothole. How often do we each drive by a pothole in the road and decide that someone else will fix it? I look to our "dirt boys" to own the pothole. Take responsibility for it and treat the road as though it was their personal property. Fix it even when no one else is asking for it to be fixed, simply because it's theirs.

As Airmen, we don't need to be responsible for roads, equipment or other tangible property to claim ownership. You don't need to be a general officer, a commander or a chief to make a difference in your organization. It doesn't matter what your role is because we each have opportunities to better the Air Force - pieces of the Air Force to own.

So I ask you, what's your pothole? Is it a service you provide the base, a resource you maintain or a process you manage? Ownership makes all the difference. It propels the ordinary to become extraordinary. It draws out the organizational pride, commitment and initiative that make our Air Force so great. I challenge you to own your piece of the Air Force today.