Success: What it takes

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Matthew Grengs
  • 52nd Fighter Wing command chief
I was asked recently what it takes to become a successful NCO. My response was simple. Don't abdicate your role. In other words, don't give up the authority, the respect and everything else meaningful that comes with wearing the uniform, regardless of your rank or position. Don't become irrelevant.

Success is credibility, and credibility comes with doing what you're asked to do every single time, every single day. Credibility is established the very moment you meet someone. People will make snap judgments about your character from the moment they first see you. They'll observe the way you wear your uniform, the way you talk to them (or don't) and even how you interact with others. Being an Airman comes with high expectations. It's important for Airmen to be squared away with uniform standards, how they speak, and conduct themselves in a respectful manner. By maintaining standards, your credibility is established, allowing meaningful opportunities in the present and future.

Success is doing "the little things." As Airmen, we're empowered with certain responsibilities that were bestowed upon us when we raised our hand and took an oath. It's doing the small things that say something about your character and shows others you respect and understand those responsibilities. Being successful is just as much about fulfilling seemingly simple responsibilities like knowing the Airman's Creed, visiting the dorms and dining facilities where your Airmen live and eat, or being an active, visible leader inside and outside your unit as it is about being the best at your job. When you don't fulfill all of the expectations of the rank you hold, you abandon your role and you let your fellow Airmen down.

Success is doing things that might inconvenience us. If you can't comply with even the most minor issues, it tells people you won't be able to make the hard decisions later on. There are no exceptions, no shortcuts, and we certainly can't choose to follow only the standards we like and ignore the ones we don't. Our standards are all important and all have significance.

The high standards we hold make us different from those who don't wear the uniform. When we took the oath we chose to become part of something bigger than ourselves. As Airmen, we serve in a world class organization that prides itself in setting the standard. We must have passion and pride in everything we do, even in the smallest things. In the end, success is about maintaining and exceeding the standards set before us each day as Airmen. If you can't accept and meet these standards, why are you here? What about your oath? Did you mean it? Are you going to pretend to be an Airman or are you going to be an Airman? You make the choice.