What I've Learned ...

  • Published
  • By Col. James Forrest
  • 17th Medical Group commander
Last week I passed my 25th Air Force anniversary. Another milestone of 2010 is that I turned 50 years old. I've spent exactly half my life in the Air Force. These five decades have taught me much and they have certainly given me perspective. With your indulgence, I'd like to share with you some of what I've learned.

- No matter your chosen vocation, the majority of your success will depend on your interpersonal skills. The world is full of incredibly talented people, but if their ability to communicate warmly with others is stunted, most people will choose to keep their distance. Look in the mirror and honestly ask yourself, would you want to work with you?

- A simple, sincere apology is almost always effective. There's no need to grovel. (Unless you've screwed up really bad, in which case a bit of groveling may be in order!) If you've wronged someone, take ownership and do your best to make it right. This is independent of rank or your station in life. Whether it's your child, spouse, friend, superior or subordinate, they all deserve our acknowledgement for our error when we misstep. Simple and sincere. You need to do nothing more and you should do nothing less.

- Regret for the past is a waste of spirit. Learn from your mistakes ad endeavor not to repeat them. Learn to forgive others and learn to forgive yourself.

- Don't compare yourself to others. Again, no matter what your station in life, there will always be those greater and lesser than you. Take pride in your accomplishments no matter how humble, and remember to be humble no matter how proud your accomplishments.

- Leave things better than you found them. This can be done in so many ways and so very easily. Stop and pick up the piece of paper lying in the parking lot. Volunteer in the local community. Even a kind word asking about a co-worker's family or letting someone going through a difficult time know that your thoughts are with them can make a difference. People remember those things and each opportunity you take can make a lasting impression and inspire others to do the same.

· Know when to go home. Military service is as demanding as it is rewarding but be cognizant of your family's (and just as important your own personal) needs. Give your boss just a little bit more each day than he needs to be successful and then go home. When you're home, be home. It doesn't count if your physically home but your head is still at the office.

- You get what you give. When you offer something of great value, people are usually more inclined to appreciate it and offer you the very same in return. Let the signature of your life be excellence and make it a point to willingly give excellence first before you expect to receive it, not the other way around.

· Be every bit as loyal down the chain of command as you are up. You're where you're at because of the sacrifices and efforts of those above you who have extended a hand to lift you up as well as those below you who have offered their shoulders for you to climb. Remember where you came from and willingly offer your hand and shoulders for others.

· Listen to Him speak. It's been said that prayer is when you speak to God, meditation is when you listen. Find that activity that lets you listen. It may be during worship at a formal service or it may be something as simple as watching a sunrise. Whatever it is, find the activities that nourish your spiritual side. They can be a steadfast anchor in troubled seas.

· Count your blessings. Appreciate what you have in life. If we could all throw our troubles on a big table and see what everyone had to deal with, most of us would be perfectly content to pick ours right back up again. When the alarm rings at an impossibly early hour, you swing your feet out of bed and they hit that cold floor, remember to say, "thanks." There are many people that would trade places with you in a heartbeat.