Eye Spy

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Harold "Pete" Anderson
  • 319th Medical Group
As a First Sergeant I am often asked "What can we best do to care for our Airmen?"

Thoughts of things I wish I could do rush through my mind: promotions, time off and monetary awards are but a few. Unfortunately, these things are not within my scope of authority.

What I can do is care for my Airmen -- sincerely care for my Airmen. As leaders we all make mistakes, but the keys are to keep the mistakes minor, learn from those mistakes and not make the same mistake twice.

As a First Sergeant, my mistakes are on public display for all to see. But when my Airmen know that I truly care for them they will be more likely to overlook my faults and give me their best efforts.

So what is the best way to show your Airmen that you care?

Ask them how they are doing and take the time to look into their eyes when they answer. Eyes are the window to the soul and are rarely capable of hiding a person's true emotions.

As American Airmen we are counted on to provide the defense and freedom to our Nation's citizens, so we are naturally reluctant to admit when we are having problems. We are driven to stay strong and are embodied by one of our Core Values, "Service Before Self," so we refuse to put our own personal problems ahead of our duties. It is no wonder then when asked how we are doing we instinctively respond with a pre-programmed, "I'm fine."

American Airmen are inherently honest by nature, so while they may vocalize that they are "fine", their eyes will not lie. This is where we as leaders are obligated to dig a little deeper. Ask again how they are doing, but in a slightly different manner. Ask several times (over several days if necessary) and the truth will eventually reveal itself.

As leaders, if you encounter an Airman whom says they are "fine", but your spidey senses begin to tingle to tell you something is not quite right, ask again, and again and again. If they answer without making eye contact this is the first sign something may be bothering them. Stop, look, listen ... take the time to do this. It is important, no matter how much it may turn your day, week or month upside down!

From the top down we all have issues that influence our emotions and actions, and we are not always at our best. Issues such as relationships, duty, finances and health are just a few examples. These issues weigh on our hearts and minds, can affect our performance and can even lead us to contemplate irrational thoughts.

The American Airman is our number one weapon system in the Air Force inventory, and as leaders we are charged with safeguarding that resource. Take the time to become familiar with that weapon system and look that Airman in the eyes every chance you get -- they will not lie!