New Year's Resolutions - Why Change? Promise to keep doing the good stuff!

  • Published
  • By Steven Rose
  • 21st Space Wing
Has anyone ever heard someone say “Starting in January, I’m going to exercise the same amount I do now”? Or “Last year was great! I’m going to do the same things this year”? Maybe “I feel good, so I’m not going to change my routine in 2018”? Probably not, but, why don’t we hear more things like this? Why are New Year’s resolutions always about ‘change’? Why don’t we hear more re-affirmation or commitments to the things we are doing right?

In 2018 we will be celebrating the 60th Anniversary of North American Aerospace Defense Command as a Command. For 60 years NORAD has provided consistent and un-wavering defense of North America. The U.S. and Canada’s rock-solid relationship has garnered 60 years of excellence in partnership, defense, and protection of our mutual interests and our homeland. Six decades of doing things right!

In 1987 I saved a specific copy of the base paper from Griffiss AFB, my first duty assignment. There was a very clear leadership lesson I learned from it. On the front cover was a very large photo of the outgoing Maintenance Group Commander with the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon receiving the Defense Department Phoenix Trophy for the Best Maintenance Complex in all of DOD. Turn the page - on the inside of the front cover was an article with extracts from the new Maintenance Group Commander’s Change of Command speech that stated “I’m going to break down this unit to the flight level and build it back up for efficiency and improvements. It seemed very odd to me as a young lieutenant that if someone was taking command of the BEST unit in DOD, the last thing you’d want to do would be to change anything at all. Like the 1991 to 1998 Chicago Bulls, don’t change anything and build a dynasty of championships! To use an old adage: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

Modern leadership literature and classes will both advocate for and promote ‘change’, and it is true that change is often thrust on us from external factors. Changes in threats, mission, personnel, and resources will force change in how we do business or conduct our lives. Some change is inevitable and necessary, but the life lesson I’ve learned is that there is a necessary balance between when to change, and when not to change. I contend that if the ‘change scale’ gets overly balanced on one side, more harm can be done than good. If we lose sight of the things we are doing well, then we will lose them through a process of “change for the sake of change.”

I offer that as we all assess our New Year’s resolutions, both at work and at home, we all reflect on those things we’ve done really well. Whether they are ‘best practice’ write ups during an inspection, quarterly/annual award accolades, or a celebration of 60 years of sustained excellence, take time to focus on the things we’ve done right, and then recommit to doing them again.