Work hard, earn trust, have a good reputation

  • Published
  • By Col. Todd Moore
  • 21st Space Wing commander

The 21st Space Wing has a long history of enjoying great success in its missions here at Peterson and abroad.   I personally congratulate you all for earning the Herres and Moorman awards, and the Omaha Trophy this year – truly a Triple Crown achievement.  Your discipline in getting the job done right, your aggressiveness in not letting barriers stop you from moving forward, and your creative problem-solving has allowed for us to employ new capabilities and train with innovation. This collective success is derived from your individual effort. 

Over the past few years, I’ve often been asked for professional mentoring – what are the keys to success?  Usually, the mentoring includes a review of a career history and a discussion about where the member and their family would like to be in five to ten years.  Sometimes the discussions are rewarding and affirming, and other times they are disappointing and alarming.  Either way, the most successful members I get to mentor understand how hard work, trust from leaders, and having a good reputation with peers/subordinates are key elements to achieving a highly successful career.

HARD WORK:  Within the discipline you demonstrate in your primary duty and primary skills, “okay” isn’t good enough.  The Air Force core values demand excellence, and this means you need to work hard. 

You’re expected to invest the time to pursue mastery of skills and depth of knowledge – never stop learning.  You can always be better at your job -- the people you serve with expect you to continually improve.   Doing your job right the first time will make you one of the most trusted members on your team and it’s something you have to earn every day.  The greatest athletes put in the time to train with intense “reps and sets” and are constantly reviewing their performance – you should model that behavior for growth.

I do want to caution a few things under this banner of “hard work.”  First, this does not mean you must continually sacrifice your family, friends, recreation, and health.  Conversely, these elements are important to enable your hard work and neglecting them will only make you worse.  Second, working smarter is a way of working efficient – don’t confuse motion and progress.  Motion will just wear you out; progress makes you, your mission, and your team better. 

TRUST FROM LEADERS:  Your leadership needs to have the confidence you will get the job done well that and you will hold true to your responsibilities.  Tasks range from simple to complex and trust comes from demonstrating wisdom and discernment both on and off duty in everything you’re asked to do – you need to play your best wherever the coach needs you.   Grow where you’re planted. Nothing will erode trust like gross lapses in judgment, or even worse, compromises of integrity.  Your “yes” needs to mean yes and your “no” needs to mean no.  If there is any doubt, trust will be very difficult to earn and harder to keep.

We have all worked for difficult bosses, and some of the toughest are those who do not trust their subordinates.  It’s sad but true, and lack of trust can manifest itself in both obvious and subtle ways.  There will be very little you can do to change who they are.  However, demonstrating the knowledge, skills, abilities, and attitudes more mature and more confident leaders would appreciate is still your choice … and still your responsibility.


GOOD REPUTATION WITH PEERS/SUBORDINATES:  Within the bounds of ethics and legality, your peers and subordinates need to know you will do almost anything to be a good wingman and a good teammate.  They want to know that success of your team, teammates, and mission come well ahead of any personal goals.  They want to know you are fair, reliable, honest, kind, and thoughtful … and the entitlements of your position or rank are not a distraction.  We are in a small Air Force, and you need people to want to work with you – you want your teammates to want you on the field with them.

Please do not confuse what I am writing here.  First, I’m not saying you cannot be firm nor demanding.  What I am communicating is that it needs to be done in a way that is fair, appropriate and professional.  Often times you’ll need to take these actions to protect the team or the mission, and making the tough call will only improve your reputation.  Second, you will not have a good reputation if you can’t resist being an obsessed people pleaser.  While it may make your leadership happy in the short run, it will inevitably ruin your reputation with the people you’re around and erode the good reputation you’ve worked hard to build.

Hard work, trust from leaders, and maintaining a good reputation with peers/subordinates … it’s just that simple.  I have seen these elements time and again in squadrons and groups across the 21st Space Wing, and it explains the great success you have enjoyed in defense of the homeland and enabling space combat operations.  You have worked hard, you have earned the trust and respect of the leadership that surrounds us, and you have an outstanding reputation across Air Force Space Command and the Air Force. 

As I change command next week with a superb leader in Col. Tom Falzarano, I am completely humbled and honored to have spent the past two years with you. I hope you enjoy many more years of great success in support of our nation and the defense of our free world.