It’s Called Work for a Reason

  • Published
  • By Maj. Robert "Bull" Reinhard
  • 319th Force Support Squadron commander
During a recent Wingman Day at Grand Forks Air Force Base, the Force Support Squadron spent one segment of the day watching a video that featured a professional speaker named Larry Winget. Larry is an in-your-face; tell it like it is speaker. I've been a fan of Larry for over a decade and respect his straightforward take on topics such as customer service and work ethics. In this particular video he made a profound point in his typical no-nonsense fashion that hit home for me. He stated, "It's called work for a reason." He went on to talk about how people continuously make ridiculous excuses instead of just getting work done. Larry also exclaimed, "You aren't paid to like your job, you are paid to do your job (although liking it does help)."

Larry made his name as a paid speaker, a New York Times bestselling author and host of Big Spender on A&E Television. He primarily focuses his efforts toward American business practices. Therefore, his audience is typically the private workforce. So when Larry makes a statement insinuating the American workforce is not always dedicated to earning their paycheck by doing the work they are hired to perform, we immediately perceive this as not being aimed toward government workers ... right? Well maybe we have issues like this in the U.S. Government, but there is no way a prestigious institution like the Air Force could experience a similar work ethic dilemma ... right? I mean come on; we are an all volunteer force working in the profession of arms. We don't just do this for money, we have a deeper commitment to our country and we have the Air Force Core values in place to keep us focused on the work associated with meeting the Air Force mission. According to The Little Blue Book, "The Core Values (Integrity first, Service before self, and Excellence in all we do) exist for all members of the Air Force family--officer, enlisted, and civilian; active, reserve, and retired; senior, junior, and middle management; civil servants; uniformed personnel; and contractors. They are for all of us to read, to understand, to live by, and to cherish. The Core Values are much more than minimum standards. They remind us what it takes to get the mission done." This statement is absolutely true. When we live the Air Force Core Values it does make us distinct and this is where we diverge from our private sector brethren. Nonetheless, we've all seen instances, especially in-garrison, where the focus of certain members of the Air Force family strays from the mission and becomes centered on individual needs or wants. This is often accentuated with distaste for doing certain aspects of assigned duties.

When members of the Air Force family become centered on individual needs or wants, efforts are diverted away from performing the primary mission. No matter what career field, it inherently degrades the Air Force's collective capabilities. Don't get me wrong, I recognize that most Air Force members have great character and work ethics. These members excel at any and all tasks. Still, in an era of extreme manpower restraints we need every member to step up and perform at their max potential. Everyday actions like taking an extra half-hour at lunch, coming in late and going home early all degrade the collective Air Force mission. Working extracurricular or volunteer issues on duty time instead of performing primary duties, side-stepping tasks, going home when work still needs to be accomplished, cutting corners because no one is watching and certain steps are not amiable, or slow rolling the return time from the fitness center are all ways to avoid accomplishing duties that we don't like performing. These actions typically result in a lame excuse to justify the action. Since we are members of the Air Force, acting in this manner does not merely mean getting paid for work that's not being accomplished (similar to what the private civilian sector would encounter), but we are failing to uphold a higher standard and an oath we all vowed to maintain.

As members of the Department of Defense, all officer, enlisted and civil servants swear (or affirm) to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and to bear true faith and allegiance to the same. As members of the Air Force, we execute the service specific portion of this oath through the exploitation of air and space and support the Air Force mission to fly, fight and win ... in air, space and cyberspace. Regardless of the role (support, maintenance or operations) we all individually and collectively work to execute this mission. In fact, collectively we are the best in the world at executing this mission. No rational entity on earth disputes this fact. Yet, to accomplish this collective mission we must individually be committed to doing the job we are trained to do. This includes performing portions of the job we may not like doing.

Sometimes performing our duties can be tedious, hard and unrelenting. Often it means spending extended hours away from the family performing an unpopular task in order to get the mission done. Whether it is preparing for an inspection, finishing daily paperwork or preparing forces to deploy, all tasks are critical to the mission. We all know the deployed environment demands a razor sharp commitment to excellence, but don't lose sight that the home station mission is just is critical. We must organize, train and equip our forces while mentoring and training the next generation of Airmen to take our place. The home station is where good habits are formed. We train like we fight. It's not an easy task and it takes a commitment to the interwoven core values to make this happen. Dependent upon one another, it takes integrity, service before self and excellence in all we do to accomplish this mission. It also takes effort and a willingness to accomplish duties some may not want to do. However, it's what we are committed by oath to accomplish and as professionals it's what we are paid to do. As members of the Air Force family, we must all strive to realize our individual responsibilities and enforce a culture that embraces Larry's belief that "it's called work for a reason."