Take time to celebrate success

  • Published
  • By Col. David Miller Jr.
  • 21st Operations Group commander
The start of a new year always brings promise of new resolution and reflection on the past year. As the holidays wrap up and the season for holiday spirit and festive gatherings come to a close, it is important to remember who we are as a wing.

Foresight and vision are crucial, but what about past accomplishments? How do we know we are driving the wing toward its vision of enduring excellence as the Space Superiority Wing of the 21st Century without marking the progress we have made?

Throughout the year, we have been combing Air Force Instructions, scrubbing programs, scouring records, studying technical orders, exercising processes, practicing self-aid/buddy care, upgrading our systems, deploying in support of contingency operations, and re-locating squadrons while executing our normal duties. For the 21st Operations Group, that means we are precisely conducting our business of missile warning, missile defense, space surveillance and space control. We are focused on establishing a culture of excellence through increasing the rigor of operations training and evaluations, sustaining scarce and valuable resources, and evolving our mission areas in ways never conceived. With this sheer volume of effort, where is the balance? At times, it feels like we are on an endless highway, with the pedal to the metal. Where is there room for anything but work, let alone holiday events, get-togethers and family time?

In the midst of all of it, the answer is to take time to celebrate success.

Recognize short term wins and celebrate them. Take the time to celebrate mission success, individual success, team success and personal success. From the first stripe to the first star, celebrate promotions. From Airman of the Quarter to 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year, celebrate individual accomplishments. From Wing Gold Knight to Air Force Association Crew of the Year, celebrate teamwork. From your first educational degree to your first child, celebrate personal achievements.

In the book "Leading Change," author John Kotter discusses an eight-stage process for leading change. Stage six of this process is to generate short-term wins. These wins are visible, unambiguous results of hard work. They "provide evidence that sacrifices are worth it," says Kotter, and they build momentum.

In the 21st OG, we have had some recent short-term wins that warrant celebrating. We have had several outstanding Airmen selected for officer training and weapons school. We moved an entire squadron from Holloman AFB, N.M., to Peterson AFB. We delivered flawless support during CORONA on the Department of Defense's second busiest flightline. These wins are truly a microcosm of the wonderful efforts and achievements around the 21st Space Wing, but they show us tangible results of dedication, hard work, and that the sacrifices involved were worth it. These wins have cultured enthusiasm and momentum which will push us through another outstanding year and well beyond.

As we lead up to the capstone event for our inspection, remember to take time to celebrate the short term wins. If what we are really doing in the 21st Space Wing comes to fruition, none of us will be around to see the long-term results because long-term, those results will be an enduring culture of sustained excellence...punctuated, of course, by many celebrations.