A “roof” is kind of a big deal

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- On May 17, 2012 my life changed--or let's just say my life in the Air Force began to change, because I was notified that I would soon get a "roof," my promotion to master sergeant.

I was ecstatic; however, once the initial excitement wore off, I started to analyze this life-changing event and asked myself, "What does this really mean?"

I began noticing and was amazed about the way people interacted with me and the way people spoke to me. They made me feel like I had the "roof" already. As an Airman Leadership School instructor, I teach students how to adapt to their new roles as leaders and to embrace the higher ranks. I knew I needed a game plan for how I was going to continue to lead and hold up the "roof".

A mentor once asked me what type of senior NCO I wanted to be. Did I want to be an E-7 or a master sergeant. He explained that an E-7 collects a paycheck and master sergeant "walks the walk and talks the talk." With this in mind, I reached back and thought of all the supervisors and mentors I have come across in my career and examined the knowledge and lessons learned. I even began to analyze supervisors I didn't admire to come up with five things to help me be a successful master sergeant.

Five things I learned:

1. It's not about me anymore. My focus is now about what I can do for the Airmen and NCOs who work for me.

2. Perception is everything. I must be cognizant of the perception that I emit. I must set the standard as my credibility and my subordinates' trust in me will reflect my behavior.

3. I must always be one step ahead and look at least two steps ahead of that. My focus is the big picture.

4. I must take care of my people, and they will take care of me. I must prove to my Airmen that I am sincere in my desires to take care of them and provide them with the tools they need to accomplish the mission and help them succeed.

5. It is important to stay true to myself. I need to stick to my convictions, my values and my morals to exhibit the strong character that got me this far.

A roof is the cover of a building. It is also the highest point or an upper limit. That's ironic, because when it comes to the Top 3 tier, it is looked upon as the highest point and the upper limit. By practicing all these lessons and more, I feel that I can be a successful senior NCO and a valuable member of the U.S. Air Force. I am truly excited about the challenges that await me with this new "roof". I would lie if I told you that I wasn't scared, because I am.

Can I handle it? Like the little engine that could said, "I think I can." Well, here is the remix to that, "I know I can raise the 'roof.'"