Like football, get on the field and make the play

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Robert Schutt
  • 5th Communications Squadron commander
As I watched this year's Super Bowl, I was reminded repeatedly how teams or organizations need quality leadership to be successful and achieve their goals. Over and over during the game, I listened as the announcers focused on Indianapolis Colts coach, Tony Dungy, and how his calm, quiet leadership helped bring the team together. At other times, the focus was on quarterback Peyton Manning and his leadership of the offense while they marched down the field time and again to dominate the Chicago Bears.

As important as these two Colts leaders were to the team winning the championship, it became clear how, even more importantly, everyone must be ready to step up and perform if the organization is to succeed.

In the first quarter alone, the Colts lost two of their starting players: a starting offensive lineman who had been protecting Peyton Manning all year and a starting defensive back. What happened, for those of you who didn't see the game, was a rookie offensive lineman stepped in to protect the Colts quarterback and open huge holes for the running backs. On defense, a seldom-played defensive back came into the game, intercepted a pass and ran it back for a touchdown -- sealing the victory for the Colts.

In these days of manning/budget cuts and longer deployments, military personnel around the world are challenged every day to get the mission done. While good leaders are critical at every level in the military, it is those junior officers, Airmen and NCOs in offices, backshops, on the flightline, in the missile field or pulling convoy duty somewhere in the Middle East that we all rely on daily to ensure the mission gets done.

Like football, all of us in the military have a key role to play and are equally important to the team. We can't be complacent and rely on others to get the job done and sit quietly on the bench not wanting to step up and play. We need to be ready each and every day, learning our jobs, understanding our role in getting the mission done and being ready to step in and lead at a moment's notice when one of our fellow Airmen go down for whatever reason.

Like any professional team, wearing the uniform requires us to always be prepared mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. We can't just watch from the sidelines as the rest of the team plays and never expect to get called into the game. We can't be the player who never shows up for practice or never reads the playbook. We all need to train and study every day to ensure we can step on the field when called upon and no one will ever notice a difference in the performance of the team.

In sports, not being physically fit or not knowing plays will, at the worst, result in your team losing the game. As part of the Air Force team, not being prepared can result in you or your teammate not being around for the next game. So, take your training seriously and be ready when called upon. If you are not already physically fit, you need to strive to get there -- not only for your health and well-being but for the other members of your team. Put the effort into studying your CDCs. Learn your job tasks and be willing to step up and help your co-workers be ready to get into the game also.

You never know when you will be called upon to get on the field and make the winning play. In the military, that could save someone's life.