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Develop tomorrow’s leaders today

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- "Show 'em the way." 

I recall many years ago; this was the motto of Air Training Command, the predecessor of today's Air Education and Training Command. The current AETC motto is "The First Command." We pride ourselves with this motto because all new Airmen, officer and enlisted, begins their Air Force career in AETC. Every year AETC is responsible for over 360,000 student training and student education graduates. Each one of these students is searching for "the way." 

Remember when you were an up and coming Airman, non-commissioned officer or a company grade officer? Remember how hard it was for you to figure out how to get to the next level? Perhaps you can recall a time when you said to yourself, "if only someone had told me." 

We all have a responsibility to ensure we prepare junior-ranking members to someday move up to the next level. We must take the time to teach them how to successfully reach that next level of responsibility. Commanders must teach operations officers, superintendents must teach supervisors, front line supervisors must teach those newly assigned personnel. From that Airman or Lieutenant who just graduated Basic Military Training or Officer Training School to the general or chief master sergeant who decided to retire, we all have something to share with those who are less knowledgeable. 

Some of you reading this might be saying to yourself, "but, I have nothing to teach." I would disagree. We all have something we can teach; something as simple as, "this is how I did it," or perhaps it is the hard lessons you saw someone else struggle with. Remember, those junior to you have no template to go off of. 

As most people will tell you, there is no secret recipe for success. 

However, by sharing your lessons learned you give junior members a starting point; you prepare them for success. Sharing what you have learned allows them to grow, branch out and strive to reach new heights so they are ready to take on new responsibilities. 

Teaching others does not have to be a time consuming process. It may only take a few minutes of your time. We all have "war stories" and love telling them from time to time. But try this: the next time you tell one of your stories take an extra minute or two to turn it into a teaching tool. Your story will become the emphasis to the item you are attempting to teach and your "students" will be more apt to learn the lesson! Not all lessons are learned from a book or manual and hearing it from someone who has "been there; done that" will make the lesson more valuable to others. 

Remember, AETC is known as the "First Command" because we "Show 'em the way."