Four priorities of life

official photo Major Nate Hier

official photo Major Nate Hier

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – After 22 years of service, I’ve learned a few lessons that help shape who I am, how I approach life, work and what I fall back on when I need a little help figuring out which way to go. We all learn and think differently, but what follows has served me well.

I have four basic rules: Work hard, but have fun doing it; take care of yourself physically, mentally and spiritually so you can take care of your family and teammates; control what you can, but don’t waste time and energy worrying about what you can’t. Finally, treat everybody with dignity and respect.

Work hard, but have fun. It sounds simple enough and it really is. If you find you’re having more bad days than good ones, then you’re probably in the wrong line of work. I’m not saying every day is going to be a barrel of laughs, but all in all, the good days should always outnumber the bad ones. We work hard because we have to. We’re limited on resources and have a critical mission that needs to happen each and every day. There’s no reason we can’t get it done and still have fun while we knock it out. Laughter goes a long way.

Take care of yourself physically, mentally and spiritually. This one is paramount. You can’t take care of anybody else if you aren’t good to go yourself. Whether you find yourself tapped to run around outside the wire in Afghanistan or just need a few more points to get an excellent on your physical training test, staying in good shape and ready to deploy is vital. Mental and spiritual fitness are equally important. There will be stressful times you’ll have to get through and being mentally and spiritually ready will enable you to handle whatever you need to.

Control what you can, but don’t waste time and energy worrying about what you can’t. Have you ever worked with somebody who spent half their day complaining about how much they had on their plate versus making any progress on their workload? As stated previously, we’re limited on resources but still have a critical mission to knock out. Investing time and energy being frustrated only makes it worse. It’s a far better idea to just dig in and work together to get things done.

The chief of staff of the Air Force has also given direction to take a hard look at the work we’re doing and eliminate things that we do “just because we’ve always done them” or otherwise don’t make sense. We have an opportunity to identify and eliminate added taskers and duties and we need to take advantage of it so we can focus on the real mission.

Finally, treat everybody with dignity and respect. We’re a family and that’s how we need to treat each other. We need every single one of us every day to get the job done. Make it a point to get to know the men and women you work with and build a strong team. Everybody in your unit raised their right hand the same way you did. They’ve earned the right to be treated with dignity and respect.