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Commentary: Chief offers ‘Three P’s of Ownership’

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Thirty years ago I enlisted in the Air Force. I was a college freshman donating blood on a regular basis for money to eat.

On one occasion, the blood bank turned me away because it was too soon since my last donation to give blood again. Next to the blood bank was an Air Force Recruiting office so I went in to see what the Air Force had to offer. After visiting with the recruiter I decided to sign up. My plan was to learn a skill, make some money, travel and return home after my six years were up.

For those first six years I was a renter. The Air Force was not my permanent home. I had no vested interest. I put in just enough effort. The same as a renter; I maintained, I did not invest. I wasn't destructive, but I wasn't as caring and nurturing as an owner.

When the six years were up, the Air Force offered me a bonus to reenlist. The Air Force was willing to invest in me if I was willing to invest in the Air Force. It was then I decided to become an owner and so I reenlisted. As an owner, my mindset changed. I gained a sense of responsibility. No longer could I sit back and trust others to take care of my home. It was up to me to look out for it, nurture it and invest time and energy into its upkeep.

From this sense of ownership, I established my "Three P's of Ownership": Pride, Professionalism and Performance.

Pride: Take pride in your job, pride in your personal appearance, pride in your family, your unit and pride in the greatest Air Force in the world. Pride spurs you on to higher standards and gives you a feeling of self-respect, personal worth and satisfaction with your achievements.

Professionalism: Be professional in all you do. Present a professional image and a professional attitude. Remember you represent the Air Force. Leave no doubt that the Air Force is your profession and that you are proud to be part of it.

Performance: Always perform at your peak. Give the Air Force your best.

Through the years I have learned if I take pride in what I do and do everything in a professional manner, it will equate to excellent performance.

Deciding to "rent" the Air Force for six years was a good decision. Deciding to "own" the Air Force for the next 24 years was an excellent decision. The Air Force gave me a reason to be proud and a home to take pride in; pushing me to higher principles. It gave me a profession and provided me the opportunity to associate with and learn from other professional men and women. The Air Force taught me to find the inner strength needed to always perform at my highest level. Becoming an owner of the Air Force not only provided me with opportunities to improve my home, it provided me opportunities to improve myself in the process.

As I fast approach the culmination of a long and rewarding 30-year Air Force career and a new beginning, if there were one piece of advice I would offer today's Airmen it would be, at the earliest possible date in your career, make the decision to be an owner.