There Is No “I” In Team Or Is There?

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. David L. Wright
  • 117th Air Refueling Wing, Mission Support Group

There used to be a question asked at board interviews. Who is the most important person or what is the most important function on this base? Consider the Air Force mission and an answer might be that it is the pilot that flies our airplanes. Afterall, when I am engaged by the public while pumping gas or grocery shopping, they want to know if I am the one that flies our airplanes. For us in the tanker business, it truly might be the boomer that is important and responsible for delivering the fuel to our receiver aircraft. Nah, that’s not exactly right. It is the maintainers that work on the airplanes that is important in order for the aircraft to be fully mission capable. Look at the Air Force nuclear deterrence missions and one will quickly realize that it is the command post that is the most important function on this base. They, among other things, perform nuclear command and control actions in the execution phase of emergency war orders, and direct conventional command and control actions supporting emergency plans, operations orders, and operations plans. Wait a minute! The command post reports directly to the wing commander. This is one person that holds the position in our wing that is considered to be the most important. The commander holds on to the authority and responsibility to act and to lead their units to accomplish the mission.   

Everyone really knows that there is no one person and no one function on this base that is more important than the other. Every Air Force Specialty Code is important. Every function is equally important. It takes us all working together with a strong team chemistry that is deeply rooted in a common purpose. The teams on our base are the highest-performing teams that consist of diverse people who think differently, who approach problems from different perspectives, and who have varying levels of risk tolerance.  Over the years with so many fine mentors and inspiring phrases, I have found that there is nothing I can do by myself that we can’t do better as a team. I may not have it all together, but together we have it all. Team dynamics is essential! This answer is a homerun out of the ballpark and would probably get you a score of 10 on the board interview question.

Perhaps it is my immediate supervisor or commander that is the most important, for without them, doors of opportunity would not have opened up for me countless times throughout my entire career. They had faith in me, my abilities, and felt I was capable to take on any given task. This may sound egotistical, selfish, or conceited, but hear me out. While each of us is very important on all the many different teams that we serve on here at Sumpter Smith Air National Guard Base, I have to say without a doubt I am the most important person on this base. Yes, me!  Knowing how valuable the team is and how important I am to the team, I do everything I can to take advantage of all training resources to maintain the technical skills and knowledge to support mission readiness and execution.  I stay motivated to practice a regular year-round fitness program where I am physically able to properly support the Air Force mission. I do my best to eat healthy and practice a lifestyle that does not jeopardize my medical readiness. There are many other things that only I alone can do to increase my own personal readiness which enables the team to be better. This should allow the unit to perform admirably on all battlefronts, the wing to be outstanding, and the Air National Guard to be a strong element when it comes to maintaining the United States Air Force as the greatest Air Force in the World and perhaps even in Space and Cyber.

So when someone asks you who the most important person in the Air Force is, you can proudly say it is yourself that is the most important. That you do everything to ensure your potential is fully maximized for the team. As any door of opportunity opens up for you, you will be more than ready when tapped upon the shoulder by your commander, asking, “Are you ready for an adventure of a lifetime?”