What Lessons Will You Teach?

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Andre Johnson
  • 422nd Communications Squadron
You're likely wondering, "What lessons could be taught from a simple personal encounter?" Well, upon arrival to work each day I greet my front office staff with a hearty “good morning” and ensure I follow each task request with a “please” and “thank you.” It’s just a small thing, but I personally believe that simple gestures such as saying "please" and "thank you" illustrate appreciation, as well as demonstrate to my Airmen; “I respect your hard work and commitment.” I additionally believe that routinely expressing such appreciative gestures reap benefits well beyond the moment and have the potential to strengthen an Airman’s faith, respect and confidence in leadership and the unit’s mission.  

Throughout a given day, we are all afforded numerous opportunities to teach such lessons. Have you given any thought to the lessons you've taught recently?

Unfortunately, “unintentional lessons” are taught as well. In most cases individuals are unaware that they are even experiencing a teaching moment.

Remember a couple of weeks ago when you took your unit mock physical training test and you only completed a few sit-ups because you didn't feel up to it that day? Or do you remember running only a lap and a half before walking the remainder of the time allotted? You might not remember doing those things, but the Airmen watching you remember. During that teaching opportunity they were taught that giving 100 percent during mission preparation is not necessary or important.

Is that the lesson you intended to teach? Probably not, but again, whether intentional or unintentional, a lesson is taught with every personal encounter.

Master Sergeant Stephen Bailey, who I met while deployed to Iraq, recognized his ability to “teach.” I recall that even amid the frequent rocket attacks, sirens and uncertainty, Sergeant Bailey remained mission focused, positive and professional; and routinely praised his young Airmen for their efforts. His Airmen were watching! They learned by his example what leaders do in times of chaos. As a result, they thrived as a team throughout the remainder of that deployment; routinely performing well beyond expectations—ensuring the Squadron, Wing and Air Force accomplished its required missions!

I know that there are plenty of other Sergeant Baileys out there. For those who are already out front and leading, continue to do so. For all others, recognize your potential to impact the Air Force mission with each and every personal encounter. 

You, and only you, control "what lessons you'll teach today."