• Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Timothy White

The past 18 months have been taxing on each of us in unique ways. The pandemic and the frequent isolation associated with safety measures gave many of us time to reflect. With travel restricted and gatherings limited, I personally began to reassess my priorities and the choices I made along my own journey. As we start to resume some semblance of normalcy in our everyday lives, I want to capture some of those thoughts.

This month, I will celebrate my 32nd year in the United States Air Force. I am grateful for all of the opportunities that serving my nation has afforded me. I am particularly thankful for my incredible wife, Edith. I would not have been able to navigate every challenge the pandemic threw at us as a family without her grace and patience. For the majority of my career, she has stood beside me and made countless sacrifices to support my career. The pandemic brought that into an even sharper focus for me.

Isolation with my family made me question my own priorities. As a command, we have three strategic priorities: prioritize strategic depth and accelerate readiness, develop resilient leaders, and reform the organization. Those strategic priorities guide where we should be putting our effort. As Reserve Citizen Airmen, the majority of us also have three priorities: our families, our military careers and our civilian careers. Work-work-life balance means that we are putting the right amount of effort into each priority.

I have not always juggled personal priorities perfectly. I would venture to guess that is the case with many of us. Our core value of Service Before Self can be demanding. However, it should not be a reason for completely neglecting other parts of our life. I will retire from the military next year with one less priority to juggle, as I resume my civilian career. At the conclusion of that journey, family will be the everlasting priority I will be holding onto. As we begin to recalibrate our lives and return to normal-ish, I encourage each of you to examine your priorities so you don’t drop the ball and regret missing out.

As we all thought about a future in which we could safely resume traveling and gathering, many of us considered what was not ideal about our work environment. Were all of our processes driving effort toward getting after our strategic priorities? Probably not. Were we thinking through how to make a more resilient organization based on lessons learned from the pandemic? I hope so. As we start to scale in person participation, I encourage all of our leaders to do one simple thing: attack processes, engage Airmen.

The last year and a half of adversity has taught each of us different lessons about how to build resilience, lead teams and accomplish the mission. We have the opportunity to capture over 74,300 diverse points of view from each member of our team on how to reform the organization to ensure that we are ready for the next challenge.

As always, it is an honor and privilege serving as your command chief. The boss and I are grateful for everything that you do.  ■