Being Obsolete

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sergeant Tim Daniels
  • 127th Communications Squadron
What are you doing to make yourself obsolete?

Are you making yourself obsolete by not knowing the ins and outs of your career field? Every career field has something that changes over time. Once you work your way through your 3-level training, then your 5-level, you have had all the technical training you will ever need, right? Not in our Air Force. Once you have all the "book-learning" done, you get to apply yourself to your actual job. You need to learn how to do the hands-on side of your job. You need to spend time becoming proficient in those areas and being the best you can be.

So, now that you're the best you can be, the learning is over, right? Again, the answer is no. Not only do you need to know your job, you need to know how to be a leader. Look around you. You know good leaders. What makes them that way? Have you ever thought about just walking up to them and asking if they will give you advice on what you can do to be better? You probably also know bad leaders. Again, what makes them lead poorly? You can learn from them as well. All it takes is a little time and effort to watch, ask, and learn from others.

The second way you can view my original question about making yourself obsolete is to ask yourself if you've trained your replacement good enough to step in and do your job in your absence. Throughout my career, I've been lucky to be put in situations where I was able to assume responsibility over different situations. These situations taught me many things, not the least of which is knowing my strengths and weaknesses and knowing when to ask for help. Over the years, I've made a great deal of mistakes, and I've tried not to make the same mistake twice. I've tried to take what I've learned and pass it on to those coming up behind me. When I am in the way of those people and they can step in and do the job, I will have made myself obsolete, but in a good way.

The Air National Guard Command Chief, Chief Hotaling, has summarized some of the key areas that we all need to focus on as Airmen. The first is renewing our commitment to the profession of arms, how we define what it means to be a professional in the military. We need to ensure our Airmen understand this by being a mentor. You don't have to start a formal process to do this. You can do it simply through your actions. For example, don't just tell people that they should enroll in CCAF; lead the way by getting your degree accomplished.

Similarly, don't just tell people about the "Little Brown Book," AFI 36-2618; demonstrate how you can use it in your day-to-day activities. For example, Chapter 1 talks about the Air Force Core Values. You should be showing that you not only know the core values but can explain how they fit into your life. That should be easy to do. If it's not, why not?

So, back to my original question - What are you doing to make yourself obsolete? Are you letting your skills become old or stale, or are you keeping them sharp and passing your knowledge on to others? I hope you all are staying sharp and developing the Airmen around you.