The power of 'no'

  • Published
  • By Capt. Madelyn Waychoff
  • 374th Medical Operations Squadron
In all the experience I've had in my Air Force career, I'll admit I've mostly been told 'yes.' And while I loved hearing that word, because it meant I was chosen or that I'd finally achieved my goal, it's the 'no's' that have had a greater impact on me and pushed me to exceed beyond anything else.

As a young enlisted Airman I was lucky to be given my first choice in jobs as public affairs, and to be stationed at assignments where I got to learn about and explore the endless opportunities in the Air Force. I loved the excitement that came with every yes, so the first time I was really told 'no' it hit me hard. One of my biggest goals was to be an instructor, I loved education, and I wanted to share that experience through teaching others. A couple years after becoming an NCO I put in an application to be an Airman Leadership School instructor, and was accepted. Then came the let down, my leadership denied my request, they wanted me to continue doing my job where I was. I was devastated.

But out of that 'no' came my ultimate dream, I was accepted into a commissioning program to become a physician assistant. I know I could've let that 'no' consume me, make me bitter and control my career, but instead I like to think it pushed me on to bigger and better things. I had dreamed about being a medical provider since elementary school, now here I am. And since becoming an officer I've learned more what it is to be a leader, especially when it comes to making tough choices. Trying to understand the right times to say yes and no, even when it feels like the hardest decision in the world, and to help others understand that sometimes bigger and better things are waiting, even though right now it seems like the end of the world.

Recently I had to face another big 'no.' After interviewing for a job I truly wanted, I was told that although I was a great candidate, I lacked experience. And while deep down I am devastated, I again feel like this is another push to help me grow, gain valuable experience and continue to work and improve myself so that the next time I will be ready.

Sometimes it's the 'no's' that push you on to greater success, that motivate you to step up so that the next time a wonderful opportunity comes you know you are ready and that you've proven to both yourself and others that you've taken the time to be the best possible Airman, whether enlisted or officer.