Yellow Brick Road

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Keith Treptow
  • 3rd Equipment Maintenance Squadron
Someone I know made a comment that I reminded her of the Cowardly Lion from the "The Wizard of Oz." My first response, under my breath, to her wasn't a pleasant one.

When she explained what she meant by her statement, it was clear that I had jumped to a conclusion without all the facts. She went on to explain that I looked like the actor from the movie. Her comment about me was, in fact, a compliment, saying that she thought I looked very distinguished and had memorable character presence just like the actor in the movie. After clarifying, being compared to the Cowardly Lion wasn't such a bad thing; at least I wasn't being compared to the Tinman with no heart and the Scarecrow with no brains.

Thinking about her statement later, I wondered about how you could compare the characters from the movie to people in the Air Force. My first thought about her statement was its judgmental and horribly untrue. I questioned, "Am I an individual who's afraid to make a decision or just went with the crowd? One who wouldn't tell somebody they were doing something wrong or correct someone's behavior?"

How many supervisors have you run across in the Air Force that remind you of the Cowardly Lion? How many Scarecrows have you come across? Wouldn't the individual who doesn't think before he acts, one that, if he had any brains, act that way? Is it the individual who doesn't follow Air Force Instruction's or technical orders? Is it one who cuts corners or skips steps in the task they are doing?

Hopefully you are not the scarecrow in your unit.

What about the Tinman or supervisors who have no heart, ones that don't take care of their troops or care about them; individuals who only care for themselves and their wants instead of the needs of the Air Force.

I certainly hope you are not like the Wizard who actually hides behind the curtain and puts on a big show? Remember, in the end, the truth comes out about the Wizard.

I know I'm taking liberties in my comparison of the characters in the movie to individuals in the Air Force, but what are the perceptions people have of you who work for and against you? Nobody wants to be like the individuals just mentioned. How can we reduce these types of people in our shrinking Air Force? If you look critically at yourself, how many characters do you represent? Certainly all of us fall victim to our cowardly, heartless, and brainless desires, but for each opportunity for negative choices, we also have the opportunity to stand up for ourselves and our fellow Airmen. Show compassion and understanding, and choose to ask questions and make good decisions on and off duty. Let's leave the movie characters to Hollywood and take care of our Air Force as we journey together through our challenges.

The best way we can take care of our Air Force is to always do the right thing. Follow the AFIs and T.O.s, even when no one is watching you. Be professional in your daily activities. Treat everyone with the respect they deserve and the way you would want to be treated. If someone needs your help with an issue, help them before they have to ask. If your job includes providing a service, then make it the type of service you would want to receive.

All of these are small simple things that have a big impact on our Air Force. Like Dorothy and her friends, walking on the yellow brick road began as a quest for personal fulfillment, but, in the end, the journey of self-discovery, teamwork, and courage to overcome has the greatest impact. I encourage you to find that courage to succeed, tame your heart, and grow with every piece of knowledge the Air Force will give you.