Find your opportunity to excel

Chief Master Sgt. Patrick Scheuer, 60th Surgical Operations Squadron, shares some leadership insight. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Chief Master Sgt. Patrick Scheuer, 60th Surgical Operations Squadron, shares some leadership insight. (U.S. Air Force photo)

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Life is made up of a compilation of moments steered by decisions, and defined by opportunities gained and lost.  Several years ago I was approached by my squadron and flight commanders.  What my flight commander said next was the beginning of an experience that helped shape who I am today and something I will never forget. 

‘“Sergeant Scheuer, I have an opportunity for you to excel.”’ Of course, my first reaction was, “Great. What was I being volunteered for and how much time will this opportunity consume.”

I realized I would be a member of the Base Honor Guard for 19 months. Until that point, I had not considered volunteering for the honor guard; furthermore, as a senior non-commissioned officer in a one-deep position, it did not seem feasible. I still vividly remember my first detail. It was a particularly cold day in North Texas, and as the ranking member of the team, I had the honor of presenting the flag to the family.

Over the next several months, and seemingly countless funeral honors, I had the distinct pleasure of spending time with my fellow Airmen. The experiences we shared while honoring those who served our country will always be with us, and my opportunity to excel was a defining moment in my career and would set me on the road to success going forward.

Developing yourself and those that follow you is a difficult endeavor. Competing priorities and life, in general, will always be an obstacle to overcome. Opportunities are everywhere if you keep your eyes open. As you look to develop yourself both personally and professionally, do not be afraid to take on things others shy away from.

First, it will demonstrate to others that you are willing to do a job that nobody wants to do and that you can do it well. The experience you will gain and lessons learned will serve you well along whatever path you choose. For those of us on the backside of our careers, it is imperative we pull the next generation forward. Few things get me as charged-up these days as when I approach someone and say, “I have an opportunity for you to excel.” Partly, because I love seeing the reaction it draws, but more importantly, because I know that someone is about to gain a valuable life experience as he or she grows and develops into a leader.

Personal and professional development is a contact sport. Whether you are just getting started or have been around awhile, the active pursuit of seeking your opportunity or seeking opportunities for others is pivotal to you and your team’s success. Do not be afraid to take chances and certainly do not turn-down an opportunity to excel.