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Direction leads to motivation

Commentary: Direction leads to motivation - I once heard a man say a person who lacks direction in life is a person who gets unmotivated about it.  (U.S. Air Force Reserve graphic by Michael Dukes)

Commentary: Direction leads to motivation - I once heard a man say a person who lacks direction in life is a person who gets unmotivated about it. (U.S. Air Force Reserve graphic by Michael Dukes)

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- I once heard a man say a person who lacks direction in life is a person who gets unmotivated about it.

As I thought about that statement I couldn't help but reflect on my direction in life as a young airman, fulfilling my duties to my country as well as fulfilling my duties to myself.

All service members remember the day we waited on since the first day of zero week at basic military training for our respective services. Graduation. It was the culmination of so much hard work and dedication to what you believed in and trusted for so long. Or maybe what you were directed to believe and trust in.

The structure of BMT is very rigid. You eat, you drink, you sleep as directed. You learn, you work, you live as directed. But what happens after you leave that structure and you're thrown back out into the real world of making decisions on your own. As a reservist, I faced that challenge and had to figure out how to respond.

Fast forward a few months past tech school and I found myself in my first unit having to figure out how to respond, by myself. There was no more direction as I knew it. No more marching in formation. No more training instructors in my ear asking me who, what, when, where and why? Now I am in charge of me, myself and I.

Being the young unguided airman I was, I followed what the other guys did. I showed up for UTA, I trained then I went home. The next month I did the same thing and the next month, the same again. This cycle repeated itself like a broken record on and on until I figured out what that the other guys I was following had. No direction. We did the proverbial punch in and punch out at the clock each UTA having no clue that we were essentially walking into the career abyss. In the abyss, I certainly had no direction and its yield, no motivation.

I started asking the people who had been in the job a while how do I get to the next step. How do I get promoted? How do I just get better? The answers I got were all different but they seem to say the same thing. "I don't know, let me ask somebody." This is what I heard time and time again. My bank of questions filled while my supply of answers dwindled. This was a demotivator.

I continued in that never ending circle until one day I was reassigned to a new supervisor who pulled me to the side and told me that he knew about my questions and that he knew where to find the answers. His name was Master Sgt. Adam Jones.

Over time Jones would show me the ropes of my job and he would challenge me to be better, be knowledgeable and trust in my abilities about how to do my job and how to do life. He mentored me and showed me direction. It's as simple as that. Through his willingness to take the extra step in my career I realized that I already had all the answers to my questions. When I figured this out, I had direction and I then had motivation.

Let's all be a Master Sgt. Jones to someone someday. Revel in the chance to make a change in someone's life that will make them that much better in more than just job knowledge but in life. I challenge all non-commissioned officers to take some time out of your day to mentor a young enlisted member or two. Trust and be confident in your abilities to listen and lead. The profound affect it may have on that person's life might just give him or her the direction they've always been searching for. Our Nation depends on it.

 

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