Every day is a parade

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Brian Schooley
  • 35th Mission Support Squadron commander
When I was going through Officer Training School, my flight commander told us that every day was a parade. People were watching us, they were judging us, they were expecting us to always be sharp and focused. Any breach of protocol or breakdown in discipline would be noticed, and from which perceptions could be drawn concerning our character, potential and worthiness. He was right -- every day did seem like a parade.

With close to 24 years in the Air Force under my belt, I have discovered "every day parades" are not solely owned by basic training, commissioning programs and PME. Our actions, attitudes and behaviors are constantly under review -- whether you are the lowest ranking member of your squadron or the commander. What you say and do, as well as the manner in which you carry yourself, speaks volumes to those around you -- up and down the chain. It may not always be the message you want transmitted ... again, any breach of protocol or breakdown in discipline is usually noticed. On the other hand, so too, is excellence.

When I was a young Airman First Class at my first duty assignment in Guam, I worked in outbound assignments. It was a job I loved. Every two months, I would give mass assignment briefings to several hundred people. Providing these members all the needed information and helping them get their PCS orders quickly was my mission, and based on feedback, I was doing pretty well. I was motivated, I was confident and I was a hard worker.

Based on further feedback, I also learned I was cocky. That was certainly not a perception I wanted to broadcast to those around me. My first mentor in the Air Force sat me down and gave me a lesson on humility. He said there was a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Before I stepped too far over that line, he said I needed to fine tune my behavior; not necessarily my work ethic. People were watching.

The parade has never stopped since. Perceptions are drawn from my words, my facial expressions, the tone or length of my e-mails, even how fast or slow I am walking. I don't own those perceptions -- I can only help shape them. The same is true for you. Simply being aware people are watching is a good start. Your words, actions and behaviors make significant impressions on those around you -- even when you don't know they're looking. Yes, every day is a parade.