Chief's Corner: CMSgt Christopher Clark

  • Published
  • By CMSgt. Christopher Clark
  • Space Base Delta 1

As I reflect back on the past 25 years I have spent in service to the nation, there are quite a few things that have served me well and that I enjoy passing on when given the opportunity. Some are values I’ve inherited growing up on a ranch in the middle of nowhere, while others have been developed from a lifetime of being a student of human interaction and behavior. So, let’s dive in on a few that I feel have been instrumental building blocks to a successful career:

Hard Work

Most people have an idea of what hard work means to them, one could also infer what this translates to coming from a kid with ranching in his blood… that inference of being the first one in, last one out, grinding every day, all the time. However, that is not what it means to me, nor have I seen that behavior lead to successful longevity.

What “hard work” means to me is doing what YOU are supposed to be doing when YOU are supposed to be doing it. Then, when that is done go home, reset, recharge, do things that fill your cup and make you better physically, mentally and spiritually.

So, the next day you are fully prepared to do what YOU are supposed to be doing when YOU are supposed to be doing it. Too often we fall into a trap of thinking our time in uniform as our entire life, while yet, it is just a chapter within a greater book. Going home to invest in yourself and family will both better prepare you for the day-to-day, while also ensuring you have a solid foundation for when it is time to start your next chapter.


Again, another simple thing that most understand, but I like to talk about is honesty as it relates to four separate categories of people:

  1. Supervisors

I feel all too often that when issues continue to be elevated through levels of leadership, they get washed, rinsed and diluted to a point that the issues being presented are mere symptoms, while the underlying root cause remains untouched. Your supervisors at all levels need the ground truth and they need YOUR thoughts on how to best address the issues. As the levels of supervision rise, so does the level of influence and control to make meaningful change. But that potential impact is negated when we fail to be honest, fail to bring solutions, and say things that we “think” we want our supervisors to hear.

  1. Subordinates

I can guarantee that the majority of people who come through those gates each and every day do not have the intent to “suck”. We want to do a good job, we want to be impactful, and we want to be part of a successful team. Being honest with those you lead is critical in the above as they want to know how to be successful, how to do a good job, just as you do in your position.  How well are you establishing what success looks like for your subordinates and then having the courage to be honest at giving feedback to correct deviation and reinforce desired outcomes?

  1. Peers

Few are in a better position to see ground truths in behavior and performance than those within a peer group. If individuals within your group are not cutting it and you fail to give them honest feedback, who is going to pick up their shortcomings… many times that person is you. You continue to shoulder a burden while a peer continues down a path of least resistance. We owe it to each other to hold one another accountable and cannot be afraid of that honest conversation, despite how uncomfortable it may feel.

  1. Self

Sometimes when you perceive that everything is going wrong and the “world is burning” around you, you need to take a step back, look in the mirror, and see if you are the one holding the preverbal can of gasoline and matches. There is a longstanding saying you may have heard – “Perception is Reality” to me that saying is a fact.

Every single one of us has been developed from millions upon millions of differing scenarios throughout our lives that shape how we see and understand the world.  Based on this, every single one of us perceives the world differently and that is our reality. What you need to understand is that your reality is not the reality of others, you need to be honest with yourself in an effort to understand others, and thus, help inform your reality.


Lastly, who you associate yourself with is who you will become. As a young Airman I associated myself with the nay-saying fun group, so I found myself going down the spiral of finding the bad in everything associated with time in uniform and focusing on the fun off duty. As you can imagine, it is a poor recipe for success.

As I realized how I was straying, I made a deliberate change. I started associating with people who I thought were better than me. It is amazing what happens when you are surrounded by people with characteristics you strive to attain as you don’t even know it is happening, but you are working every day to better yourself in these areas. Collectively, you hold each other up as a group and help pull each other back in line when someone strays. If you strive to be successful, surround yourself with successful people.


Hopefully a few items from above have struck a chord. Some of these took me years to learn and if I can lessen the learning curve for some, then I will call it a success. At the end of the day, this is all a people business. We all need each other for the continued success of this brilliant experiment in freedom.

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Clark poses for an official photo. Clark serves as one of two Senior Enlisted Leaders for Space Base Delta 1.