What is success to you?

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines success as, “a favorable or desired outcome.” Depending on who you ask, people will describe it differently based on what’s important to them. As I near 24 years as a servant Airman, I’m frequently asked, “Chief, how did you become so successful in your career?” 

 

I don’t have a step-by-step answer that guarantees success. What I can share with you are the contributing factors that aided me over the years that helped me be succesful.

 

First and foremost, my faith has always been a constant in my life. I wasn’t raised in the church, but I have always known there is a “higher power” who was responsible for guiding me. When I was growing up, my friends went to church so I attended a lot of services with them and it nurtured my relationship with the Lord.

Next, I wouldn’t be here without great leadership and mentors who saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. Throughout the years, I’ve had multiple leaders take me under their wings and place me in difficult positions that provided me opportunities to grow professionally.  Initially, I was intimidated by the increase in responsibility. In the end, I learned and became a better leader, learned to welcome challenges and became resilient. From public speaking to making difficult decisions, they helped me understand the importance of our core values and personal accountability especially when leading by example. As I progressed through the ranks, I saw how I impacted and inspired others as those before me had impacted and inspired me.   

A true sign of my success is the happiness and dedicated support from my family. Like any military member, I’ve had ups and downs in my personal life. I had to balance them in conjunction with my professional life.  I’ve been divorced, a single parent, moved the family around the world, struggled financially and been separated from my family for extended periods of time. Through it all, I’ve always known that I have an amazing supportive family by my side and they have never once asked me to quit. I now have a fantastic husband, who is also a chief master sergeant, and it’s a blessing to go home to him every day. I share stories with him about my day because I know he understands where I am coming from and is a great sounding board.  In order for both of us to have been successful and be promoted throughout our careers, we’ve used effective communication, compromised and shared responsibilities. We are blessed to have a blended family with four beautiful children. As far as we are concerned, they are “our” children and not once have they been labeled as “step-children.” Our oldest daughter has continued the family legacy and serves in the Air Force at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. Our second daughter recently graduated from college and will become a middle school teacher. Our third child is starting his second year of college and has aspirations of becoming a firefighter. We still have one child in our home who is 10-years-old and continues to keep us young. 

As I said before, I don’t have a concrete answer for someone to achieve success, but faith, great leadership, mentors and family have contributed to my success. There is no right or wrong answer, success is defined by what is important to you and how you get to your favorable or desired outcome. I encourage each of you to find what your definition of success is and continue to reach for it.