Are you successful?

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- There is no doubt we are the most powerful and feared military force in the world. So how do we sustain that besides through deterrence, continuous change and improvement, and delivering demolition on demand? We do it by growing our force stronger, as members of our team become successful. So that begs the question, are you successful? 

Each member of our team is important; and the success or failure of each affects our ability to meet military objectives. It's imperative that members of our team are successful. 

So how do we measure success? Many attribute success to wealth, possessions, stature, status, etc. Although those can be indications of success, they are not success. If they were, then many who do not experience those things would be considered failures. 

Does success just happen or is it something pursued? As renowned college basketball coach Rick Pitino states in the title of his book, "Success is a Choice." Success is indeed a choice and available to every one of us. From my perspective, an individual achieves success by reaching his/her full potential through focusing on four areas of life: professional, personal, physical and emotional. Let's take a look at the most prominent of these, professional. 

It's easy to see how the professional area contributes to success, since doing well in this area can result in recognition, status or fame. But it doesn't come easy. To reach your full potential in your profession, it's critical that strive to be the very best at what you do. That can be achieved by knowing your job, remaining proficient and continuing to learn about your trade. Serving in the U.S. military requires even more than that. It demands that we maintain the highest standards of discipline. If you're in a supervisory or leadership role then mentoring, professional reading and professional organizations are a must -- take the time to invest in each of these. Being good at what you do, continuing to develop in your role and investing in others, will ensure you reach your full potential in the professional area. The next key area of focus is personal. 

When I refer to personal, I'm talking about that time spent away from work -- your "personal" life. To reach your full potential in this area, you must dedicate time to family, friends and related activities. Investing in this area means you must work at developing solid relationships with family and friends, ones of depth. And you must also dedicate time to family/friend type activities -- planning is a must, don't just hope that something comes up. Sounds like work doesn't it? It is, and the only way to make it happen is balance. Being a mission oriented person and having a Type A personality, it took me years to learn to balance professional and personal life. I would spend countless hours at work and at times neglect my family -- fortunately for me, I have a supportive family who waited very patiently for me to figure this out. Our next area is physical. 

It almost goes without saying that maintaining a good physical condition contributes to job effectiveness, but also improves your health and well-being. Many years ago "I thought" I was in good physical condition because I could run a mile and a half without any conditioning in between and produce a good run time. Had I been a little smarter back then, I would have realized I was young, and that feeling of almost dying after the run was my body's way of saying "you're out of shape." Today I invest regularly in physical conditioning and see the results of it not only on the job, but in everyday life. There are many ways to strengthen your fit level and reach your full potential. For me, there are three focus areas: cardio, muscle strengthening and flexibility. Cardio activity can be achieved by running, riding a bicycle or using an elliptical trainer. How much? It depends on your current fit status -- the key is to stay within your target heart rate zone. 

Muscle strengthening can be accomplished through calisthenics, weight-lifting and sports. Flexibility is attained through a variety of activities. My favorite is swimming, which also simultaneously addresses cardio. Something else to think about when focusing on the area of physical, is eating. Yes eating, you must watch what you ingest because it could affect your size and energy level which in-turn limits your ability to maintain a good physical condition. Physical conditioning ties in to the last focus area, emotional. 

The emotional area represents our mental status and can be addressed through exercise, community service, relaxation and spiritual time, to name a few. Ever heard someone say they are going to run or lift weights so they could relieve some stress? 

Well it's true; doing so can do just that, and as a result, be relaxing. Community service is often overlooked for the purpose of tending to our emotional area. However, I can assure you that doing something good for someone else is very rewarding to the soul. Relaxation can be achieved through doing absolutely nothing -- my wife accuses me of this sometimes -- reading a good book, or maybe listening to some soft, relaxing music. No matter how you choose to tend to your emotional needs, don't neglect them. They are critical to your success, which brings us back to my point. 

Are you successful? If you are operating at your full potential, the answer is yes! If the answer is no, dedicate time to the professional, personal, physical and emotional areas of your life. Balance is key. If you do this you can reach your full potential, be successful and ultimately contribute to a stronger U.S. military.