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Doing enough

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Laura Nepute
  • 349th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – A few years back, I was asked to write an article for the Chiefs’ Corner.  Having always thought only the wisest voices were asked to contribute their insights, I was excited and honored.  In retrospect, I am not sure if my insights were noteworthy or if I was simply fulfilling a new chief duty. 

Fast-forward to today. I’m sitting in the airport terminal waiting to fly to one of my last Unit Training Activities. I am struck by the notion that choices embodied both my civilian and military careers. Only time will tell if my choices were correct, but my choices made me the person I am today. 

During a deployment, I heard a general officer who was a fighter pilot, speak at a ceremony. He shared a time, early in his career, when he was alerted to fly a combat sortie. His mission provided air support to ground troops pinned down by enemy fire.  The general repeatedly flew into and out of harm’s way supporting the Soldiers. Over and over he flew. Eventually, exhaustion set in and he couldn't fly anymore. 

After the mission, he wondered if he had done enough. Perhaps, he could have made one last run? That question haunted him for years. With the passage of time, and perhaps the wisdom of experience, he eventually reached a point where he realized he did all he could. With that insight, he let go of the question.

With my military career winding down, I routinely ask myself if I’ve done enough. To be honest, I am not sure. However, I am confident in my choices to maximize the opportunities presented before me.  

As this will be my last commentary submission, I will use it to ask you, “Have you seized or squandered life’s opportunities?”

It doesn’t matter if you're a first-term Airman, a mid-level officer or an old, retiring chief, when opportunities present themselves in both your personal life and career, grab them.  Don’t be afraid to try something new, different or uncomfortable. Put your toes into the pool of leadership, engagement and influence. Don’t forget to be approachable and professional in these new situations. Most of all, be OK with failure or mistakes.  With these tenets, you might find yourself performing in the best way possible.  

At the end of the project, mission or your career, be proud of what you've accomplished.  If you ask yourself, “Have I done enough?" Maybe, just maybe, you can say, “Who knows? But I did all I could.”