A positive attitude makes the difference

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- "Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference." -- Winston Churchill

I was in a meeting the other night with, the Father (Lt. Col.) William Bartoul, 509th Bomb Wing head chaplain. As customary, Father opened up with some comments. But, unlike other times, the comments this night brought silence and deep thought to the normally upbeat crowd.

His comments were on the importance of having a positive attitude and how, especially in tough times, it can have an incredible effect. Unfortunately for you, I may not be as seasoned a communicator as Father, but I believe the topic is definitely worth some thought and time on the keyboard.

In today's world of smaller budgets, rollbacks, early retirements, reduced benefits, etc., it is very easy to fall into a pattern of cynicism and negativity. Don't. Although I agree that the reduction in forces, money and equipment has an effect on the mission, the bottom-line is that our mission is too important to fail. And in a world of less, a huge part of keeping our mission successful is our attitude. It is our trust and confidence that what we do is important; that we are important and that we must "roll up our sleeves, stop crying, and start sweating."

Former Vice President Hubert Humphrey once said "It's not what they take away from you that counts. It's what you do with what you have left." All too often our response to such adversity is a poor attitude that says "no, I don't have the resources for that." After all, that is the "easy" answer because it requires less work and less time. It is a short-sighted view that may allow you to succeed in the "here and now", but will ultimately keep you from working as a team, figuring out the hard solutions and moving forward. This is not the path to success and it is not the path that you chose as an American Airman.

Instead, one should approach the challenges of today with a positive attitude: a confident attitude that you can make a difference and help America succeed. What can I do to support? How can we collectively find the best possible answers to the reduction in manning, money and tools as they affect us all? Sometimes this will not be easy. Sometimes you won't be able to find answers to everything.

In these times, it is important to find where we fall short and highlight these areas to our leaders so that they can make the best decisions possible with what we do have. If you don't know the answer, be willing to help find the right person or brainstorm to get the best possible course of action. Make a difference.

Chaplain Bartoul would use an example that night of a surgeon who would refuse to start an operation if the patient had a bad attitude; low confidence that they would get better. Like a patient, we must be confident in our mission and our future. We must believe that we can make a difference and that our actions will make the world a better place tomorrow and far in the future, no matter what challenges we face. This is what we do. We are American Airmen. 

I will hand over command of the 325th Weapons Squadron Feb. 10. As I depart, I want to personally thank everyone in the 509th BW for your outstanding support that helped us build, teach and lead the B-2 Spirit and Air Force combat leaders of tomorrow. Since its stand-up in 2003, the leaders you have helped produce through the 325th WPS are now going on to be vice wing commander, wing commander and beyond. You have made a difference.

From a father who humbly raises his family under the freedom you provide; many thanks.