Are You Ready to Receive?

  • Published
  • By Maj. Brian Leo
  • 709th Munitions Squadron commander
Are you ready to receive?

In the NFL, this means, "is your team ready for the football?" In the 709th Munitions Squadron, the statement "ready to receive" has an entirely different meaning.

It means something different in all, your jobs, too, but the statement is absolutely a part of the awesomeness of Airmanship.

One of the earliest things I was taught was to be coachable. A long time ago, I was quite the Little League baseball player, and I knew it. So, when my Dad tried to help me "refine" my skills I wasn't too receptive, and of course ignored or resisted as much as possible.

I had my own ideas as to how much practice I thought I needed, (it wasn't much), and those ideas didn't match his. He saw my skills and only wanted to make me better with constructive criticism, but I didn't think of it that way.I was immediately defensive and just thought he was berating me about the few times I had missed a catch, or not backed up one of the bases, or not known to which plate to throw.

During one game, I made a basic mistake in the outfield that had a big impact on our game. Was I upset? You bet. I couldn't believe I'd done it, and it was huge emotionally. After the game, my Dad explained why he'd been trying to tell me some of my weaknesses and all he cared about was I improve and have fun.

I needed to be coachable and catch what people meant to make a change. "Wow," I thought, "you mean my NASA-engineer Dad might know something about this game?" He told me to listen closely to what people are saying and "receive the message," and not get defensive so fast. It's funny how my coach had been saying the same thing all along.

We're all a little averse to being told we're screwing up, if that's how we receive the message, but if no one tells us about it, we just keep on chugging along below our potential.

Receiving any message without bias is very important. In PME we're taught to be a good leader, you must be a good follower. In the same respect, to be a good listener you must be able to see through any emotion and receive the true message someone's trying to convey.

Granted, there are times when we really do need to be told directly we're screwing up, but the majority of times the sender is only trying to identify room for improvement because they truly care about the impact on the mission.

In our case as Airmen, it involves the One Team, One Fight mantra, and its impact on the Air Force's ability to Fly, Fight, and Win. Every Airman has room to improve. We all have blind spots, and it takes others to tell us what we could improve at. Do you remember your OJT? Did you start your Air Force career in something you knew nothing about? How did you learn what's right and wrong in your job? I'm guessing nobody did it on their own.

I'm first to say I'm not a guru at anything, but it started with that lesson as a youngster for me to be able to say that out loud. My ego has definitely been tempered since then. In today's Air Force, as loyal as were are to our career fields and as proud as we are of our knowledge, we should always look for true meaning in the words someone uses when trying to "help" us with an opportunity to learn, even if we didn't ask for it.

Learning is forever. Open up, take a breath, step back and let it rip (the learning part). Be willing to introspectively look at yourself and see if the message giver is right. It can only make you better, and reinforce team bonds with your fellow Airmen. Oh, and it just might be the right thing for the Air Force mission.

The different ways you might hear a message is for another article, but no matter how someone approaches you with unsolicited advice, be willing to expand your mind. It can be a learning point for both sender and receiver.

Absorb the dose of reality you may be missing. Pick up every little piece and advance your development. Hear it, decipher it, move on. You'll be much better for it.

Be "ready to receive."