TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – It is 4:45 a.m. and I turn the key to the ignition of my car, fire up the engine, shift the transmission into gear and make my way to work.
A seemingly simple task on the surface, but cosmically complicated when broken down to the simplest parts. It takes thousands of pieces compiled, constructed and synchronized together just for an engine to turn over. The parts must work as one team. Once running, the engine must partner with the transmission, various drive and suspension components and hundreds of supporting processes working together for an automobile to provide humans transportation. They must be one team. Each component, a complex design within itself and crucial to the success of the machine.
Like automobiles, our lives, societies, communities and organizations are comprised of thousands of pieces compiled, constructed and synchronized to achieve goals. They must be one team. Similarly, each component remains a complex design within itself and crucial to the success of the mission, but cannot and shall never stand alone.
Most people appreciate the importance of teamwork in accomplishing the mission, especially in the complicated and dynamic environments our military organizations often operate. However, we sometimes lose sight of the contributions of others and forget the importance of their impact toward mission achieving success. We forget to trust our mission partners and their expertise, we fail to respect their voice and role and we can compromise our dignity by placing blame and passing responsibility. We forget to be one team.
It is common for most of us to believe and express pride in being “the mission of the base,” or “the tip of the spear,” or “the quintessential cog” leading to the success of the mission. We use slogans like “No One Kicks Ass without Tanker Gas” to inspire morale and comradery, hone our competitive edge and foster pride in our jobs. No doubt integral components to our culture that help us achieve great heights and push the limits of excellence, but only when tempered by a constant education to unite us across functional, service, joint and coalition boundaries.
Being one team, incorporates a much deeper understanding and realization of service and humanity. It takes a profound sense of humility, brotherly interaction and acceptance of diversity both internal and external to the world around us. It is important that people appreciate that they play a specific role in the pursuit of a greater goal, but equally important to understand the significant roles, equal in importance, that others play in achieving an end state.
Only with proper perspective, acceptance and appreciation of diversity can we lead people and organizations to new heights and realize our dreams. Only with teams forged on dignity, respect, and trust can we appreciate how our behavior and ideas influence the behavior and ideas of others; and our individual mission parts influence and affect the individual mission parts of others. How our innovative processes, continuous improvements, readiness and mission excellence drive the same in other components and our team partners. Only through one team and a comprehensive understanding will we truly reach our full potential. We must be one team.