Stay focused on what is really important

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Joe Moritz
  • 319th Communications Squadron commander
When I was selected as a squadron commander in the Air Mobility Command, I was required to attend a week-long orientation course which provides new commanders information concerning items we should expect to encounter. The conference was full of excellent information and briefings. However, a few items stood out, and one stood out above them all.

This item was a briefing by a colonel who had also attended the AMC squadron commander's course many years prior. During his course, he had the opportunity to escort a retired three-star general. While he was driving the general back to the airport, he took the opportunity to ask the general what was the one piece of advice, above all others, he could impart to an officer about to take command. The general said, and I paraphrase, "That is easy -- my wife left me, my children do not speak to me -- don't let this happen to you."

When you entered the United States Air Force, you were asked to pledge an oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States, from all enemies foreign and domestic," and to then accomplish the United States Air Force's mission to fly, fight and win. Needless-to-say, to accomplish our mission, the United States Air Force asks plenty of you. These requests range from sending you on multiple deployments, having you work weekends to prepare for a Unit Compliance Inspection or asking you to complete off-duty education.

With these and the many other demands vying for your time, it is easy to lose focus on what is really important. If you are not careful, working these demands can come at the cost of your personal relationships. I once worked for a general officer who, during one of his officer calls, stated quite simply, "Call your mother!" We all knew what that statement meant. It meant we should call that person or group of people who are special in our lives, whether it was a parent, a brother, a sister, a friend, or a mentor, and strengthen that relationship. If you focus too much of your time on work and ignore those relationships, you may not have those relationships when you are through serving your country. As I have progressed through my command, I cannot agree with this sentiment more.

My advice to you is to work hard and serve your country as best as you can. However, make sure you do not forget those people in your life who are close to you. Write them a letter (yes a letter, not an e-mail) and tell them how much they mean to you. Send them a thank you card just for being there for you. Save your money and purchase a plane ticket so you can visit them at Christmas. Show them you care by making a special effort for them.

In the end, the United States Air Force will continue on when each of us has left the service. However, those who are close to you now will be the ones there for you when the Air Force no longer levies its demands upon you. Make sure you take the time to cultivate those relationships. And one more thing ... call your mother!