First Sergeant's Corner: Perspective

  • Published
  • By SMSgt Adrian Galcik, First Sergeant, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center
This month's AFMC connect is about perspective. Perspective is the ability to perceive things in their actual comparative importance. In other words, the lens through which you see everything through determines how you view yourself, others, and everything around you. Perspectives are built on life lessons and how you have grown from them. An American publisher, Roger Birkman, wrote: "The reality of life is that your perceptions- right or wrong- influence everything you do. When you get a proper perspective of your perceptions, you may be surprised how many other things fall into place."
Perspective is a result of our personal experiences, values, and the culture we were raised in. Being in the Air Force, our perspectives tend to change through the years as we grow in our AFSCs and advance to higher echelons of the rank structure. While assigned to a previous unit as a First Sergeant, there was a manning request to complete a certain type of mission. Manning was already low due to high personnel moves, and individuals on leave since it was during the holidays. An Airman was preparing to depart for the mission, and I noticed they were acting out of the ordinary. I approached them and asked if everything was ok. They told me that their sister had been killed the night prior. I was informed her supervisor told her she would still be required to depart in the morning. I asked them to go to my office while I spoke to the Flight Chief. The Flight Chief wasn’t tracking since the supervisor never passed on the information. While speaking with the supervisor, he said the manning was needed, and she could still tend to her family needs in the field. Case-in-point, the perspective of the NCO was mission-driven, and the perception was that there were no other backups to cover the requirement. On the flip side of the coin, the Flight Chief's perspective was to be understanding of the situation and empathic towards the Airman and her family. We found a replacement, and the Airman returned home to her family to mourn and grieve their loss. While the perspective of the NCO was focused on the mission, they needed to reassess their perspective towards the airmen and the situation the Airman was currently facing. Sometimes an empathetic perspective goes a long way.
Your perspective can be changed through self-awareness as well as trials and tribulations. A self-aware leader recognizes when they need to change their perspective to meet the needs of what a situation that is presented. Some questions to ask yourself in the scenarios you may face are: Do you have the correct perspective? Do you have someone to lean on to keep you engaged appropriately and on the right track with your viewpoints? Is your own perception of the situation causing the overall perspective to be skewed? Sometimes, asking a mentor or peer if your perspective of a situation is right or wrong doesn't hurt. Asking these sources will help your perspective be shaped and will ensure no cognitive biases potentially cloud your judgment.
The perspective you gain is wisdom and knowledge to carry forward to help others.