If it is to be, it is up to me

  • Published
  • By By Lt. Col. Kevin Gulden
  • 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander
As we grow up, all of us have many different things that influence who we are today. 

Parents, teachers, coaches and friends all play a part. But for most of us, there are a few special moments, events or slogans that stick with us forever and perhaps guide our lives. 

I remember many of the sayings and slogans that my high school football coaches used. "There is no I in team." "The difference between champ and chump is you." But the one that I remember the most came from the guest speaker at my sophomore year high school sports banquet. 

In 1982, National Football League hall of famer Lenny Moore spoke at that banquet. Lenny played for the Baltimore Colts from 1956 to 1967. And more important to me, he was a Penn State Alum. 

The phrase Lenny told us that night will stay with me forever and has often guided my decision process and my actions. I remember him saying, "10 little words, only 20 letters, make all the difference in the world. If it is to be, it is up to me." 

The bottom line is if you want something ... if you have a goal, it will not happen without your hard work and dedication. Few of us are handed our success. We have to work hard to prepare ourselves so when the opportunity presents itself, we are ready to succeed. 

At the same time, there are few things that we can make happen alone. We need the support of parents, coaches, spouses, or supervisors to help us achieve our goals. But you'll be hard pressed to find someone who has succeeded without putting forth a great deal of their own effort. 

How many of us have sat around complaining about one thing or another? It's up to you to change it. It could be as simple as providing customer feedback or informing your boss of a problem. Or it could take a great deal of effort on your part. But either way, if you don't take the first step, whatever you are complaining about probably won't change a bit. 

The 509th Bomb Wing was recently faced with a daunting challenge, preparing a wing for it's first-ever phase II conventional operations readiness inspection. In my squadron nearly 70 percent of the people had never participated in a phase II exercise. And I must admit that after the first operational readiness exercise, I thought we were doomed. But Lenny's words came back into my head. If it is to be, it is up to me. 

Now obviously none of us can do it alone. (You might recall there is no I in team.) But if each of us believes that it will not happen without me, we cannot help but succeed. 

I told my squadron during commander's call, that each of us has a responsibility to ensure we know our ability to survive and operate, our self-aid and buddy care and the rules that govern our specific task during the ORI. I challenged them, "Don't you be the one who lets the squadron or the wing down because you didn't carry your share of the load." 

You all know the outcome of the ORI and it was evident to me that a great number of people, whether they knew it or not, took those words Lenny told a bunch of high school kids 25 years ago to heart. 

Each of us carried our share of the load to make the wing succeed. Do you think Lenny ever thought he would have an impact on making the 509th BW the best combat unit in the best Air Force in the world?