Don’t 'Bah! Humbug!': The importance of the past, present and future

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --  A visit by three spirits of leadership past, present and future yields an Ebenezer Scrooge like awakening that urges us to redeem ourselves for a more flourishing career.

In the story A Christmas Carol, the ghost of Christmas past visits Scrooge illuminating a hind sight view of lessons to be learned to enhance and put matters into a favorable context for the future. Likewise, the ghost of Christmas present in the Dickens story only appears once, much the same way our opportunity to excel in the present is a fleeting occasion.

Finally the ghost of Christmas future enlightens Scrooge to recognize that his understanding of his past inequities allowed an appreciation for thriving and not squandering the present to overcome his own death.

In his own words Scrooge explains, "I will live in the past, the present and the future. The spirits of all three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach."

Looking to the past shows us where we have been and gives us an appreciation of where we are and enables us to envision what might come in the future. In many instances an acknowledgement of the past serves as a guide post when making difficult decisions or charting a course for a challenging program.

Within the 47th Flying Training Wing great advantages can be gained by studying past unit compliance inspection reports. Analyzing the write-ups avails a window into what the focus of a program is about and serves as an excellent measuring device to compare our own unit's effort.

The best advice I've received is an idiom that fits living in the present perfectly. "Thrive where you are planted and never settle for mediocrity." Too often in our careers we mistake the importance of job title or duty location over the notion of doing the best in the job were presently in. Exceptional effort yields an opportunity for greater responsibility and over time the cream rises to the top.

Poet Samuel Johnson had it right when he said, "The future is purchased by the present."

The story of Scrooge concludes with his transformation and optimism for the future. Similarly, we value the importance of leaving a place better than we found it and a legacy of an outstanding shop that others can build upon to improve our base.

As Air Force members we mold and shape the present and future. It is important to account for the past in order to share an understanding of where we are collectively and can provide a vision of where we want to be in the future. In other words, we not only use the past to resolve current situations, but present actions become the heritage of the future.