Point Three Percent

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Scott Lauer
  • 21st Force Support Squadron

Last month, years of hard work and dedication came to fruition for 667 active duty enlisted Airmen. That was the number of individuals selected to make the transition from the enlisted ranks and join the officer corps. Only two of those 667 or 0.3 percent selects were senior master sergeants. As one of those two selected, I truly feel that being part of the two percent and then the 0.3 percent is significant, but no more or less significant than the other 665 selects – and to go even further, the 800 or so that did not get selected. 

A senior master sergeant crossing over to the bottom of the officer corps is definitely a unique occurrence, but I feel that it highlights a sense of humility and brings to light another idea: Leadership is not positional, it is personal. There is a level of inherent respect that comes along with being a ‘Senior,’ not so much when it comes to being a ‘butter bar.’ I believe that respect is earned, not automatically bestowed upon the senior member. The leader that rests on inherent respect based upon their position or rank is not a leader at all, but merely a senior ranking manager. Do not confuse respect with customs and courtesies. You must respect the rank, but the person--that’s a different story. 

Back in 2007, I set the goal to finish my bachelor’s degree and commission, but as with many things life had other plans. It wasn’t until 2018 that I was able to tackle the process again. While most of my peers are in the twilight of their careers, I asked my family if I could sign us up for an adventure, and with their blessings I shot for the moon. The gamble paid off and now everything we have known for the past 15 years is up in the air. However, there are four things that I have done from my first day in the military that will remain relevant and will continue with me until my last day. 

First, work hard. My father once told me that it didn’t matter what I did as long as I worked to be the best at it. I try every day to be the best senior, readiness NCO, Airman, father and husband. Work is what fills up the majority of our waking hours. In fact, we spend more of our week with the people that we work with than we do with the people we love. We might as well make the most of that time and strive for excellence. 

Second, have fun. I believe the Air Force term is resilience, but I call it fun. From dressing up like John McClane for the wing holiday party to donning an inflatable panda costume for Halloween, fun is what makes the world go round. Fun leads to laughter, and as we’ve all learned from “Monster’s Inc.,” laughter is more powerful than fear. Make your daily goal to find the fun in life.  

Third, stay humble. Full disclosure, this article was painful for me to write and I didn’t want to. I don’t like to celebrate my accomplishments because I recognize that my successes are not mine alone. From commanders to airmen basics, every interaction I have had in my entire career has steered me in one direction or another. In this case, the recommendations, words of encouragement, and help from Airmen and family deserve as much credit as I do. 

Fourth, be a good human. Celebrate the accomplishments of others, work to better yourself and your teams. Recognize that your coworkers and family are human beings and factor in the human aspect when making decisions. Everyone adds value to the world in some way, shape or form. Let them add value to your life and in return add value to their life. You may not be perfect, but your heart and soul will shine through. 

Shoot for the moon.  Work hard.  Have fun.  Stay humble.  Be a good human.