You, me and our core values

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Tony Whitehead
  • 127th Wing
You, Me and our Core Values...
It was several years ago that I discovered my great appreciation for the Air Force and its culture. I had always known I enjoyed being in uniform, but in this particular instance I was hooked. I was looking for something to read on my plane ride to the First Sergeant Academy (2001). The Air Force's Core Values was still fairly new and I wanted to learn more about their origin. The more I read, the more I realized that I was a part of an institution that truly values the character of its members and doesn't take for granted the trust that the American public places in its ability to protect and defend. I was humbled by this reality then, and I still am to this day. Team Selfridge with you, me and our Core Values, we are unstoppable!

Let's examine:

Integrity First - In the 1997 publication of our Core Values, integrity is defined as a character trait and the explanation that follows goes on to list several words that fall in line with what most Airmen consider part of integrity: courage, honesty, responsibility, accountability, etc. We have also heard countless people recite that "... integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is looking ". I'M ALL IN!

What does integrity mean to you? If you are in a position of influence, could your Airmen look to you as an example or a cautionary tale? We have seen (and witnessed) numerous examples of men and women in uniform that have not lived up to this core value. What is our responsibility?  It is up to each and every one of us to be that positive example of integrity for our fellow Airmen, our families, and the American public that looks to us to be the standard.

Service Before Self - is defined as professional duties taking precedence over personal desires. Not that we should have a favorite of the three Core Values, but this one really resonates with me. Leadership teaches us to be the first one in and the last one out - all the while making sure our subordinates receive the best in resources, training, equipment and top cover. Selfless Airmen don't have or believe in hidden agendas. We make our goals and objectives known. We share the credit in success and shoulder the blame in failure, but are ever mindful of teachable moments to improve processes, procedures and our people.

My fellow Airmen, we are duty-bound to promote the standards of the institution to preserve its legacy of integrity.  Passing your fitness assessment ONLY when it is time for a promotion or re-enlistment is not an example of leadership nor does it send the right message to our Airmen about continuously upholding the standards of our institution for others to emulate. The Enlisted Force Structure, AFI 36-2618 reminds us as senior enlisted leaders and military members to meet and exceed the standards we are to enforce - lead by example.

Excellence In All We Do - team, this is simply doing your best always. Some may argue that excellence is subjective, however the results expected in our performance, attitude, and productivity are not subjective - our best is expected. I have this personal list called "My 5", and in the first of the five I remind myself and others that we know when we are in the presence of mediocrity and we also know when we are being mediocre. Excellence will never fall into the category of "good enough" and as Airmen we should never see each other, nor accept each other as anything but excellent or in the pursuit of excellence.

Team Selfridge, let's resolve that in 2016 and beyond we all will be honest in our dealings with each other, selfless in our actions and thoughts, and perform to the best of our abilities always.

I'm looking forward to an awesome year because of you, me and our Core Values!