Staying persistent

  • Published
  • By Maj. John Groff
  • 8th Maintenance Operations Squadron commander
Throughout the years, I've received a lot advice on how to be successful. I want to share with you the one piece of advice that has given me the most payoff: "persistence" or the act of persisting, especially in spite of opposition, obstacles or discouragement.

As an Airman, I set goals for myself, wrote them down and put them on the mirror in my room. Every day I asked myself, "What did you do to achieve your goals today?"

One of my goals was getting a master's degree. I had been taking college classes for nearly five years and just finished my Community College of the Air Force degree. Three colleges and four bases later seemed to bear little fruit. That is, until I heard about an opening in the schoolhouse at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas.

I called the superintendent and sent him my résumé. He said he was interested in hiring me, but I needed a time on station (TOS) waiver to move stateside to stateside in less than three years. My peers told me "no one gets a TOS waiver." I decided to ask the military personnel flight anyway; they told me I needed the wing commander's approval.

I was very nervous about sitting down with my squadron commander, the lieutenant general and then the general, pretty intimidating for a young staff sergeant. So, I went back to my mirror and reflected on my goals. There was only one way to knock out my degree in a reasonable time: become an instructor.

When I walked into the largest office I'd ever seen for my meeting with the wing commander, I said to myself "I got this." He looked at my records, asked me a few questions, took out his pen, signed the paper, shook my hand and said "good luck."

That was not nearly as tough as I thought it would be. After my peer mentoring session I thought I was going to be put on permanent weekend duty just for asking for the waiver!
I sent my waiver in to my functional manager and waited. About a month later I was notified I was selected for instructor duty! My supervision supported me 100 percent, and my CCAF helped me qualify for the job. Maybe the five years wasn't a waste after all.

I went to Sheppard, gained another CCAF degree, and completed my bachelor's degree in two years. I had nearly no off-duty life for those two years, but I knocked out my bachelor's degree. Now the easy part: a master's degree was only another two to three years away and I would reach my toughest goal.

After receiving my bachelor's degree, I became an officer and completed my master's degree.

Being persistent pays off in all aspects of your military career: mission success, promotion, leadership and more. The toughest part of being persistent is figuring out what new goals you need to pursue next!

Don't waste your valuable time. Stay focused on your goals, don't listen to the naysayers and most importantly ... be persistent!