Coping with a culture of change

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. David Liapis
  • 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
You have likely heard someone say, "the only thing constant is change" or something similar, especially in recent months. This quote and its variations are attributed to Heraclitus of Ephesus, a Greek philosopher who lived from 535-475 B.C.

This familiar saying, as tired and overused as it is, is still relevant 2,500 years after it was uttered, and for good reason.

Life in the Air Force is marked by change. From the day you arrived at Basic Military Training, Officer Training School, the Air Force Academy, or whichever accessioning program you may have used, you were well aware that things had changed ... drastically.
The evolution from civilian to Airman required massive change - the way you ate, slept, dressed, communicated, folded shirts, rolled socks, studied and viewed yourself and others.

It's almost Permanent Change of Station season again. Change is even in the name of this life-altering aspect of the Air Force. There's no way to avoid it. Even if you don't PCS for a number years, other Airmen you work with and for will. So if you're holding your breath waiting for the day that everything settles down and for the dust to clear, you might just find yourself unconscious on the floor. We live in a culture of change.

Air Force news headlines and senior leadership briefings are filled with words and phrases like: budget, uncertainty, realignment, end-strength, lean force, constraints, personnel cutbacks and resilience.

"We are living in a time of great strategic and budgetary uncertainty, but throughout our history the Air Force has demonstrated the flexibility to evolve according to changing needs and requirements," said Secretary of the Air Force, Michael Donley, in recent speech. "The Air Force must be prepared to keep evolving as we finish today's fight, and continue our mission to protect America today and in the future."

So, how are you coping with this culture of constant change?
Some may be tired of hearing the constant beat of the drum of resiliency, but our leadership keeps pounding it for good reason.

We all respond differently to change. Some embrace it and thrive off of it while others try to avoid it and may become stressed and depressed. No matter what your level of tolerance, resiliency is a critical factor.

Maybe you think all that talk about stress, depression and suicide are for everyone but you. You think, "I've got this. I don't need another brief or down-day to focus on how resilient I am."

There are a couple of reasons to pay attention. One, you might not be as immune as you think to things you'll need to bounce back from. Honest self-assessment is needed for any of the training to work for you. Two, maybe the benefit from all the hours of slideshows will help you identify an issue with your wingman. We need to lookout for our wingmen as well as ourselves.

There is no way to avoid change in the Air Force, especially right now. The best thing we can do is internalize the message and concepts of Air Force resiliency training and help each other "be the ball" and bounce back from whatever adversities may come. There's so much uncertainty about the future, and no one is immune to the effects of change - good and bad.

President John F. Kennedy said, "Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future."

Are you adequately preparing today for the uncertainties of the future?

For more information on Air Force Resiliency, click here.