Second-mile leadership as an airman

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class William Dowling
  • 319th Communication Squadron
Recently, I looked out my window to find another airman 1st class shoveling my driveway. I was grateful for this because I was injured and my wife is pregnant, so we weren't able to deal with the recent snowfall. 

I continued to think about this as the day went by and discovered a side of second-mile leadership I had not realized previously. It is easy to look at the concept and see how it works with those in leadership roles, but what if you aren't in a leadership position? As I look around the base, there are other airmen everywhere ... and we are asked, "How does this approach to leadership apply to us?"

The day began to pass, and I realized that at its core, second-mile leadership is not about leading, it is about a lifestyle. I also realized that the Air Force core values and second-mile leadership work together. Through basic training and tech school, we are taught the core values and the consequences if they are not followed.

However, once out of the training environment, it is easy to slip away from these concepts. It is much easier to do the minimum and spend the day surfing the internet or joking around with our coworkers than to go the extra mile.

I realized that second-mile leadership as an airman 1st class means continuing to apply the core values. It means learning everything we can from our on-the-job training, rather than seeking ways to try and pencil whip it. It means being the one that volunteers to do a task rather than trying to keep our head down so that we don't get selected for it. It means looking for ways to get involved on base and in the community. It means looking out for the others around us. By living a lifestyle of going the second mile, it prepares us for when leadership opportunities present themselves and makes us second-mile leaders today.