Leadership -- helping others achieve success

Chief Master Sgt. Robert Bell Jr. is the Superintendent for the 509th Force Support Squadron, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Released)

Chief Master Sgt. Robert Bell Jr. is the Superintendent for the 509th Force Support Squadron, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- I would argue that many of our Air Force careers started in similar fashion, even though there are numerous reasons people elect to join the Air Force. I'm sure for most of you it was a calling to do something different than you were currently doing or an opportunity to serve something greater than yourself.

Mine was certainly no different. Following my humble beginnings growing up in Alabama, I worked for the local television station and on the surface it looked like I was on top of the world (or at least it appeared that way as I cruised around in my 1979 black Z-28). I was living for the moment, having fun and only being accountable to me.

So in 1984 I stumbled into my local recruiter's office with no real intention of "signing up;" it was more of a fact-finding mission that went ... much differently than I expected. When I look back today, however, it turned out to be one of the best decisions I've ever made.

The Air Force provided the stability at the time that I so desperately needed to refocus my priorities and gain some direction in my life.

I've seen the Air Force change a lot over the years, and I anticipate more changes on the horizon. Many times, people view change as a negative, and in some cases it is, but I would argue for us to remain the most lethal Air Force in the world we have to change, and the leaders who stand ready to embrace change and adopt strategies to move forward will ultimately be the most successful.

There has never been a time I can recall in my 30 years where we needed strong leaders more than we do today. With the fiscal constraints and the down-sizing of the force, it becomes even more critical that we keep our eye on the target to ensure we take care of our wingmen and our resources.

I challenge each of you regardless of your place within the organization to make every day a day you can be proud of because of your contribution to our great service and our nation. Sometimes it's as easy as taking a hard look internally and simply changing just one thing you've wanted do different for a while, but for whatever reason have put it off until now.

A chief once told me one of the things that make OUR Air Force so unique is that you don't need a golden key or special treasure map to find the secret to professional growth. The path to success is posted in every PDG and on the walls of your favorite CAA or superintendent's office.

AsI turned to walk away, puzzled like most young Airmen would be when a chief just stopped them in passing to chat, he yelled back and said "Senior Airman Bell, don't forget that when you find that success to pull yourself up with one arm and reach down and pull someone else up along with you."

Those words have been a staple of my leadership philosophy and have served me extremely well over my career. As I watch Team Whiteman accomplish their daily mission, I am continually amazed at the level of professionalism, dedication and unit pride on every corner of the installation. I can no doubt retire next week confident we have the people and processes in place to not only sustain our crucial mission but continue to grow it.

I salute each and every one of you; it has truly been an honor to serve with so many people who've taught me so many things over the years.

Good luck and much success in all future endeavors and I hope to see you on the other side.