Twenty Seconds of Courage and the Hard-Right Thing

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Michael Peake
  • 21st Medical Squadron commander
We Bought a Zoo. Have you seen it? In the movie Matt Damon's character tells his son that sometimes all you need is "just twenty seconds of insane courage..just twenty seconds of embarrassing bravery..and I promise you, something great will come of it."

As a father myself, I am instilling in my son the importance of doing the right thing and that sometimes doing the right thing is hard to do...the hard-right thing. As a commander and leader, my focus is to uphold our Air Force standards and maintain an environment of dignity and respect, ensuring all our Airmen epitomize the core values.

We are all leaders, so take a moment to consider what could be if you combine these two thoughts--twenty seconds of courage and doing the hard-right thing.  Apply them as a leader when you're encouraging your team mates to have the courage to uphold our environment of dignity and respect. Encourage them to take that twenty seconds to tactfully and professionally guide a co-worker to make the right decisions and avoid moving the wrong way on the continuum of harm. With respect to our Air Force standards, we all meet choices every day to either erode them or enforce say something, or to pretend we didn't notice and look the other way. When that time, that choice, comes for you, twenty seconds is all you need to do the right thing.

Some of the decisions you will be faced with are going to be harder than others. The harder the decision, the higher the risk, the bigger the consequence, the more likely you may lose sleep working it out. Know that you are not alone when it comes to making these hard choices. You have a built in support system. You have peers and wingmen who are more ready than you think, standing by to help you. Rely on them. Rely on your supervisor. He's likely been there and done that. She can provide you mentoring and advice and encouragement, and maybe a little nudge. In the final analysis though, it all comes back to you. To us.

It is our time. We are the shoulders that those who come after us will stand on. We are evolving our Air Force. We absolutely have to get it right. I encourage all of us ... take 20 seconds of courage to do the hard-right thing. Something great will come of it.