FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. --
"Beware the test." I don't recall which supervisor or mentor shared this with me or even exactly when it was passed, but I do know I think of it often and use it as a source of motivation. The point to the message is that every encounter, chance interaction, project, assignment or opportunity you experience on a daily basis throughout your career, no matter how seemingly insignificant or how important, is a test ... a test of character, a test of motivation, a test of will, a test of integrity or a test of ability. Whether you like it or not, you're measured. It's a fact of life in the Air Force and outside the Air Force. It could be a check ride, a daily task, a random meeting in the hallway with a supervisor, an important briefing or presentation, an exercise, a fitness test or an inspection. This realization struck me and I scrutinized my behavior for quite some time. What drove it home even more was how true it was.
Let me set your mind at ease. The idea that you're measured really isn't scary at all if you just manage what you control. First, you control your attitude. Is your glass half full or half empty? Is every new thing a problem or an opportunity? Live life with a positive attitude and it's amazing what you can do. Even more, a positive attitude is contagious. It spreads through the work place and even builds teamwork. A positive attitude is a difference maker every day.
Second point to consider is excellence -- the third Air Force Core Value, "Excellence in all we do." Every Airman should strive for continual improvement in service and self. To strive for excellence is to try your best, it's that easy. You control how hard you try. No one can ask you to do more than your best. If you try your best, you're striving for excellence.
The third point is to be yourself. You're an Airman in the United States Air Force, the most powerful Air Force in the world, and you got here by being yourself. People see right through you and you lose respect if you try to be something you're not. You control who you are to everyone else.
So, "beware the test" isn't scary at all if you manage what you control. Have a positive attitude, do the best you can, and be yourself. If you can do that, you will succeed. Even if you fail, and believe me you will fail; everyone does, learn from your mistakes and try again. There is no success without failure. What separates the winners from the losers is that the winners, despite how many times they fail, keep a positive attitude, continue to do their best, and stay true to who they are. So bottom line, forget about the test and don't worry about the critic, it's not about that. It's about stepping into the ring, giving it a try, and managing what you control. Which reminds me of an incredible Theodore Roosevelt quote, "The Man in the Arena." Google it, you won't be disappointed.
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