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Are you the wind or the anchor?

Chief Master Sgt. Gregg Kollbaum

Chief Master Sgt. Gregg Kollbaum

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- "People can be the wind beneath our wings or the anchor on our boat"
- John C. Maxwell

I find it funny every time I write an article I remember a bad supervisor or a bad situation that drives the topic. To ensure effective leadership, the Air Force spends a lot of time and money sending Airmen through professional military education to show us how to be good supervisors and leaders. We are taught the textbook answers to discipline, recognition and situational leadership along with many other skills. But it's hard to forget a terrible leader and I certainly remember my experience that occurred early in my Air Force career.

As an airman first class, I looked up to a sergeant of any rank. My mentors thus far had been training instructors, military training leaders and technical training instructors. They were sharp, proven and time tested professionals. I relied on them to guide me into a successful career and to show me how to be an excellent NCO. They made sure I had the training and skills I would need when I got to my first duty assignment.

My first assignment was to Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington. I was fired up and ready to put my training into action. I wanted to aim high ... fly, fight, win! I quickly had the wind knocked out of my sail by a terrible superior. He was a staff sergeant who worked in the operations flight. He was not a good example for a young impressionable airman. He was always "on break" and chose to do the minimum to get by. The day was never good. If I said it was sunny he would counter with "It's going to rain later." It was frustrating to have to work on any given task with him. The job would always take twice as long, and when it was complete, it would be subpar at best. He was a downer to anyone he encountered.

Since my tour at Fairchild, I have realized that knowledge, attitude and motivation are all vital to being a respected Airman and leader. Providing knowledge is courtesy of the Air Force. However, the attitude and motivation must come from within. My career started with tremendous examples of professionalism. These phenomenal NCOs taught me the way to be successful. But I also learned a lot from the NCOs who taught me what not to do.

How is your attitude? What is your motivation level? I challenge you to look at yourself and decide if you are the wind or the anchor.