Thank you

  • Published
  • By Col. Brian Hastings
  • 355th Fighter Wing vice commander
I am reminded of the importance of a personal document I used recently to articulate my vision, goals, philosophy and expectations to Airmen in our organization. I titled the document, "Perspectives of the Vice." I use it as a guide when speaking to Airman to deliver a consistent message. Let me share an aspect of my perspectives with you.

Last week I was fortunate enough to address the Airmen attending the First Term Airmen Center and Airman Leadership School. I am a social person and one on the main points I discussed with the Airmen was greeting people and saying "thank you" often.

I believe greetings and being thankful are important parts of building healthy organizations. While speaking to the Airmen, I was reminded of an article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal Nov. 23 titled, "Thank You. No, Thank You."

The article addressed all the issues the Air Force is struggling with right now with regards to building resilient Airmen. The author, Melinda Beck, reported that an "attitude of gratitude" may lead to a better balance of psychological, emotional and physical well-being -- tenets of the resilient Airmen movement.

I had always believed that gratitude was important, but I had no idea that scientists had studied the effects so extensively. She added that people who "...feel grateful have more energy, more optimism, more social connections and more happiness ... They ... sleep more soundly, exercise more regularly, and have greater resistance to viral infection."

The article goes on to describe gratitude as a "demanding, complex emotion... [that] requires self-reflection, the ability to admit that one is dependent upon others, and the humility to realize one's owns limitations." I never understood how great the power of gratitude was, but long ago I realized it was working for me.

Air Force leaders often talk about needing to strike a balance between spiritual, mental, physical and psychological well-being and someone is always developing some program to fix a problem, but I wonder if we have forgotten to leverage a simple, yet powerful component to building resilient Airmen -- being thankful. Leaders can enhance mission accomplishment by incorporating an "attitude of gratitude" into their unit culture.

Developing this attitude can be difficult because it is related to realistic expectations. Managing Airmen's expectations requires engagement by savvy supervisors and active commanders, and is often very uncomfortable to accomplish. It requires time and a level of effort that is more difficult in an Air Force that is very lean and filled with units where leaders are often deployed away from their Airmen.

Regardless of the challenges provided by our current environment, if you have to have an attitude, why not have a good one -- one of gratitude. On that note, I wanted to say, "Thank you!" Thank you for what you have done, what you do, and what you are going to do to continue to make our Air Force the envy of the world.