Be ready for your 'Tap on the shoulder'

Major. Chad Murray official photo

Major. Chad Murray official photo

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – One of the most inspiring quotes I’ve read is from Winston Churchill. He said, “To each, there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing…what a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared for that which could have been their finest hour.”

That has stuck with me as a reminder to never stop learning and to glean all I can from each job, position or opportunity I’m given (or simply find myself) in an effort to be more prepared. Prepared for what? I’m not sure. But that’s the point, to be prepared as best I can for whatever opportunity is on the horizon.

Unfortunately, there is no warning or disclaimer about our next position, that it is “what we were meant for”, our “opportunity for greatness”…that it’ll be the “most consequential position we’ll ever hold.” So, we have to be ready. Thankfully, this is one area in which the Air Force does a good job, giving us a variety of experiences and opportunities to learn from and help us prepare ourselves.

Like most active duty members, I’ve moved jobs often. It usually happens just when I feel like I know what I’m doing. Needless to say, it’s frustrating, but I’ve started to see that each position has offered me a chance to learn, grow and prepare.

General McDew, the former U.S. Transportation Command commander, gave an interview before he retired. In it, he talked about all of his previous assignments and how, at the time, they didn’t make sense for him to be doing such seemingly unrelated jobs. But in his role as commander, he used every one of those skill sets. As he said in the interview, “I was built to be here, now.” What an awesome thing to be able to say. All of his assignments, all of his training, all of his variety of experiences had prepared him for that position.

I was recently afforded the opportunity to lead a fantastic organization, Maintenance Operations, part of the 60th Maintenance Group. I recognize this is an opportunity to help an already successful unit achieve even greater heights. It is also an opportunity for me to learn and prepare just like other jobs and experiences I’ve had. In my short time here, I’ve learned a ton from the hard-working professionals I’m lucky enough to be around every day, and I know I will continue to learn from them until I’m forced to leave this incredible team. My hope is to help others here prepare for their next position so we all come out of this more ready for what lies on the horizon.

To be clear, I’m not saying I belong in the same sentence as General McDew or Winston Churchill – not by a long shot. I’ve simply done my best to heed their advice – learn all I can from the situation I’m in to better prepare myself. No matter the position or experience, there’s always something we can glean for “future reference”. The Air Force will continue to provide us with many, many different jobs and opportunities from which to learn; it is our responsibility to use these to ready ourselves. This is the only way to ensure that when we receive our ’tap on the shoulder’, we are prepared for our finest hour.