Leadership Lessons: See it Through

  • Published
  • By Maj. Johari Hemphill
  • 319th Logistics Readiness Squadron commander

"When you're up against a trouble, meet it squarely, face to face; Lift your chin and set your shoulders, plant your feet and take a brace. When it's vain to try and dodge it, Do the best that you can do; You may fail, but you may conquer, SEE IT THROUGH!"
- Edgar A. Guest

The question you really have to ask yourself is "What do you want out of your life?" not just your career? Why ask this question? You have to ask yourself this because a career in the military is really short, no matter whether you do one enlistment or a 20-plus year career. But your life began before the military and will continue when you decide to move on to pursue other aspirations.

I asked myself this very question in 1997, when my university soccer coach told me I was not going to be able to play my fourth season because my grade point average did not meet the National Collegiate Athletic Association requirement for a junior. I missed it by a tenth of a point. It seemed crazy to me because I was not on academic probation at the university; therefore, I was not notified that there was an issue. I wanted to be a professional soccer player and I saw this dream going up in smoke. I felt like a complete failure and withdrew most interaction with my teammates.. I even thought about quitting school before I came back to reality. It was my fault because I did not take the time to understand the rules and regulations to better execute my plan in life. Soccer was just part of my life, not my life.

As my father always told me and brother, "stand on what you know." What I knew was, I had to SEE IT THROUGH. I had to see my education through because a lot of people invested their time and effort in me so that I could have options and succeed at whatever my heart desired in life.

I had to reevaluate my plan to make the necessary adjustments to continue my long-term plan on this journey of life. I ended up transferring schools and did something I never planned to do: join the Air Force through ROTC. I hadn't planned on it, even with a history of veterans in the family who have served in at least one branch of the service since 1949 starting with my grandfather as an enlisted Airman in the Army Air Corps!

This option was made possible because of the evaluation, talking to people whom I trusted and who cared for me, and then making a decision to do it.

I had taken the first step on accomplishing my long-term plan: finish school, I did; find the woman I wanted to marry and start a family, I did (luckily she said "Yes"); have a successful career, I have, and it's still in progress; and ultimately be happy, for the most part I am! The latter one is the umbrella and what we are working toward or attempting to maintain in our daily life. I found out during the deep dive into my soul that I am not here for me, but to reach others and let them know someone does genuinely care about them and their life aspirations, no matter their circumstance. We all will meet adversity in life, but we cannot let our nerve desert us, but keep ourselves in fighting trim. We need to use the mental, physical, and spiritual fortitude to SEE IT THROUGH with support from family and friends. So, I ask you as we begin this New Year, what do you want out of your life, not your career?

This is an opportune time, as most people make New Year's Resolutions that are generally short-lived because it is just a list of things, not an action plan to achieve them. Therefore, I want you to take the next couple of weeks and make the plan for the things you want to accomplish in life from a holistic point of view, personal and professional. Then share it with someone you trust to keep you on track, hold you accountable, and celebrate the milestones to keep you inspired to SEE IT THROUGH!

In the Logistics Readiness Squadron my folks will tell you I never miss an opportunity to ask them the same thing with the hope that every one of them achieves their goals in life. I am sure if you asked them, they will vouch for this and probably quote me on the topic. Everybody has something to offer; however, we cannot help anyone else until we help ourselves. So, let's look at some key components to an effective action plan and possibly a visual method introduced to our family by my wife, Jennifer, to reinforce the plan.

Remember the long-term plan I mentioned above ... it contained the key components of my action plan and yours may be similar, but I am sure very different because it will be based on your life's short and long-term goals. These goals should be things that revolve around what makes or will make you happy and should include short-term goals because these are the milestones that you will need to celebrate at different intervals to keep you inspired. Do not lose sight of them or miss celebrating them because they build up your confidence and give you the energy and determination to reach the next milestone. Make them significant events in your life that will bring you happiness; like finding your partner, starting or finishing school, starting a business, having a child, saving a specific amount of money or even a humanitarian effort to help someone else physically or monetarily. You pick it; make it realistic, and SEE IT THROUGH!

Along your journey you may not accomplish them all or even on the exact timeline, but that is life and we have to adjust based on our circumstances. These moments in your life will help build your resiliency for future life lessons and even allow you to help others navigate similar situations and overcome them. Your happiness is not always what you directly accomplish, but in the milestones reached by others. That is where I get my real satisfaction!

I know there are some creative people out there who may need some visual aides to complement their written action plans. My wife and son are those creative types and recently made their own vision boards to help them literally see their short and long-term goals. These boards are impressive to me because they contain the key components of an action plan in picture form with some words or phrases focused on family, education, business aspirations and friendship; those things that lead to their happiness. I know that with this visual aide containing planned milestones to celebrate important achievements, they will SEE IT THROUGH! So, I encourage you to do the same, if you are the creative type.

It is a New Year, full of instability, budget constraints, sequestration, and force management programs. Although this may be the case, you are still in control of your life and can take this time to make your plan, creating options for yourself, and achieve the things that you want in life. The keys to your success are determination and focused effort to SEE IT THROUGH!

Get started immediately because your life depends on it and no matter what: "Don't give up, whate'er you do; Eyes front, head high to the finish." SEE IT THROUGH!