I have a wonderful and supportive friend named Munce. We professionally competed for leadership positions across the final 10 years of our military careers with Munce achieving the pinnacle leadership position possible for an ANG enlisted member. Many times, a professional competition like ours brings out the worst in people and can damage or destroy a friendship.
Our friendship grew stronger each year and is strong today. How you might ask? We both clearly understood, “it is not about you.”
This phrase first came into my leadership life from Munce. He was briefing a group of enlisted leaders and he made sure each of them knew their role and position mandated that their responsibility was to their followers and the organization; it was not about them. I clearly remember the day he said to the group, “it is not about you Chief!” The looks on the faces of the senior leaders was one of introspection, refocus, and some confusion too.
As we moved among the leadership positions in our career, we both stayed focused on this phrase and it gave us focus, purpose, and mutual respect. It also made us both very successful. We both became focused on the professional development of our subordinates and the ANG enlisted force.
Without a doubt, this simple mantra made my final years as a senior enlisted leader the most productive and satisfying of my adult life. As I sit in retirement and look across the AF/ANG enlisted force and the great things they continue to accomplish, I take great pride in knowing that Munce and I displayed selfless leadership and taught others that “it is not about you.”
As I watch the national news and even some local news, I often run that simple phrase through my mind. From my perspective, our nation could use a good and healthy dose of “it is not about you” for many of the elected leaders and people we count on for leadership. Stay strong! ~JETSR