Prepare to notice stressed wingmen

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Sherry Hemby
  • 934th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron
Preparing for inspections = stress. Generally, people want to do a good job and satisfy their leaders. Finding time to accomplish the mission in today's high operations tempo and review every checklist in preparation for inspections can be a challenge. And with every challenge comes the stress of wanting to do whatever it takes to be successful in reaching your goals.

Ready to alleviate or decrease stress? The answer is to prepare. Let's take a few minutes to look back over the past year at what we have done as a wing to be successful and prepare for the upcoming inspections. The goal was made clear "to pass all inspections, be a great team and excel when possible." Securing commitment was the key to attaining the cooperation needed to complete the work and reach the goal. Leaders stepped forward with clear direction and tasking. Roles and responsibilities were assigned. Milestones were set. Results and progress were the expectation.

Each evaluation (SAV, FAV or internal audit) gave us information on what we needed to fine tune our programs. Knowing how our programs scored may or may not have added to our stress level. "Red" findings that indicated the program did not meet standards, added the challenge of "how did we miss the mark in getting this 'green' and what is our plan to get this 'green'?" High expectations and not reaching those goals in a timely manner equals stress. As the inspections draw closer, anticipation and performance anxiety will raise stress levels.

Potentially, everyone deals with stress in different ways depending on coping skills they have developed during their life experiences. Air Force culture trains us to be good wingmen and watch for signs of stress in our fellow airmen.

A few ways to beat stress is to:
Lend an ear: Listen and allow someone to vent their frustrations.
Be healthy: Eat healthy food, regularly exercise and get adequate sleep.
Tune in: If someone is not acting like their usual jovial self, take a few minutes to ask them if everything is okay. Make sure your questions come across as being sincere and take the time to listen to the answers.
Help out: Is there something you can do to help this individual with whatever is causing them stress?
Speak up: Is their supervisor aware of the roadblocks they are facing? Some folks do not like to admit that they are having a hard time accomplishing a task. They feel this makes them look like a failure.
Teamwork: Remember, we are a team. Whatever our role, working together achieves results.

Recently I read an article that emphasized the importance of attitude during inspections. Being positive regardless of the situation goes a long way in presenting a "can do" attitude. Looking sharp in and out of uniform and being professional regarding customs and courtesies presents a positive attitude. Look for that positive attitude in your wingman. It is contagious. Know your job and be prepared to verbalize how well you accomplish your mission in a safe manner. Pride in yourself, your unit, your mission and your base will be evident.

Eloquently, my mother gave me good advice years ago when faced with any situation. She told me to put my best foot forward and dazzle the world. So, put your best uniform on, stand by your wingman, show off your programs and processes and dazzle the inspectors.