COMMENTARY: Keys to success

RAF MILDENHALL, England -- As a chief, the question I've been asked the most is, "What does it take to make chief?" Every time I've answered it, my response has been slightly different because there really isn't one secret formula. The only known method is actually pretty straightforward: make staff sergeant, then technical sergeant, then master sergeant, etc. You get the picture. Regardless, whether there is a secret formula or not, I would say there are three things each and every Airman can do to set himself or herself up for a successful career. Those three things are: be a good citizen, do your part and embrace continuous development.

Be a good citizen.

Treat everyone with respect and kindness, regardless of role or rank, and practice every day common courtesies, like using please, thank you, sir and ma'am. Common courtesy is contagious in the workplace and fosters good working relationships. On the contrary, it is awkward to work with - or even be around - a person who is rude, obnoxious or has an unpleasant demeanor. Additionally, don't walk by a problem. If you see something wrong, fix it. For example, you can pick up a piece of trash lying in the grass and throw it away. If you can't fix the problem, find someone who can.

Do your part.

The Air Force pays us all to do a certain job, so do it. While you're doing it, do it well; do it the best you can. If you don't do your part, someone else will have to pick up the slack and work harder to ensure the mission gets done. That can cause resentment and conflict and can affect the quality of life of the Airman having to do the extra work. You get paid well, have fantastic entitlements and benefits, and have the honor of serving our great nation - so do your part. The Air Force needs you; our nation needs you. The only way our Air Force can and will remain the most powerful force known to man is if every Airman does his or her part.

Embrace continuous development.

Continuous development is key to improving professionally and personally. The Air Force ensures we receive professional development with technical training, career development courses, on-the-job training, professional military education and professional development seminars, and it's our job to ensure we do well with these opportunities. Also it's up to us to ensure we pursue personal development opportunities. Off-duty education is a great way to personally develop ourselves. While I highly recommend education, there are also other activities that help develop our talents and potential, enhance our quality of life, and enable us to set goals and reach our full potential.

As I stated earlier, there isn't one secret formula to a successful career. Being a good citizen, doing your part and continuously pursuing development opportunities are relatively easy rules and a proven path to success.