I’m sure it’s been said many times. You just never know when the moment will come. My moment came in the form of a computer-based survey sent out by the U.S. Air Force. It was a survey meant to gather data about the development or lack there of, of its members. The data would then supposedly give the powers-that-be a baseline idea of how to shift Air Force members around to best “develop” them. Feel free to do the air quotes when you read that again. It’s definitely air quote worthy. Kevin, a good friend who was “developed” because of my decision, and I discussed the new program and decided the “development” must be implied.
I don’t even remember the exact wording of the question but it went something like this: “Select areas of interest from the list below. Check at least three. If selecting Retirement, digitally sign form and exit.” I know some of my more detail-oriented friends will correct me on the phrasing, but you get the gist. But that was it. If you check retirement, you don’t even get to see the rest of the questions, you get the cyber equivalent of ‘Thanks for playing, bye bye now, the adults are talking.’ My gut said “check retirement and lets go to lunch, it’s schnitzel day at the dinning hall.”
That initial reaction stems from some serious scars, (and an intense love of schnitzel made by dudes who can fry okra easier than they can flip an egg.) I’m not a big fan of development, especially development plans lifted from those zany guys like Zig Ziglar, Ken Blanchard, Steven Covey, and my all time favorite, John Maxwell. Now in the spirit of full disclosure, my very good friend, mentor, older type brother Chris has started a like-minded company. You may have seen the link to his web page for Modeof8 at the right side of my blog page. The difference; Chris is not marketing to the military; at least that’s what he tells me. He may be a mentor and a brother but he’s deathly afraid of me on this subject so I know he lies to me about it or avoids the conversation all together. Either that or he’s tired of hearing me whine about it. Anyway, Chris is trying to help the weak minded, new leadership philosophy of the month club, corporate world. The other difference: he’s 10x smarter and understands the playing field better than Maxwell or any of his boys. See what I did there, full disclosure and a shameless plug all in one. You can’t get this type of pro style authorship just anywhere folks.
The Air Force went corporate in a lot of ways over the years but nowhere was that movement more rabid than at military schoolhouses. Don’t look for sources at the bottom of the page. I don’t need them; I was in the middle of it for longer than one man should ever have to be. It was a lousy idea coupled with even worse execution. Although I’m surprised I wasn’t executed considering they way I dealt with the endless meetings, training sessions, and implementation of some of the wonderful policies born out the ridiculous idea we all had to be people pleasers to be effective leaders. Lets just say I wasn’t at my best in the area of decorum and subtleness.
Ultimately every job in the military leads to making it more efficient to kill people. The USAF was no different. Some of us even left our jobs directly killing people so we could teach other people how to lead those who were directly killing people. Not sure ole John C. Maxwell has a Pollyanna scenario for that, although he thinks he does. Ok, moving on.
I knew I couldn’t check the retirement box. I had to run it past CINC House first. For the uninitiated, CINC House means Commander-In-Chief of the House. In the military world of acronyms it’s a great one. It’s in the same family tree as getting a kitchen pass. If you don’t know what that is, well just know that none of us like you not even a little bit. I stole this particular acronym from my good friend Andy. I don’t know if he coined the phrase but he uses it all the time. Check is in the mail Andy. The CINC House of our little bungalow would of course be Tracy. I could tell I was gonna need some mushroom gravy with the schnitzel to help me focus enough to formulate my argument with CINC House.
Wrong again. Turns out she had remembered a conversation we had some time ago about me retiring and staying home with Frank, when and if Frank ever arrived. Well the little guy was on the way. Looked like May 25th ish 2009 for a possible Frank sighting. Once I explained that I was first on the list to be “developed” out of Knoxville, Tracy had no problem with me hanging up the uniform. Truth be told she wanted to keep working anyway and she’ll even admit I’m the better house cleaner and cook. So she was going to float the retirement idea anyway. The cooking and cleaning discussion is a later blog entry; trust me.
I mean we did take some time to think through the ramifications of the whole deal. Role reversal was a big topic of course. I felt like I might be shirking my duties as the hunter-gatherer and all that. I also felt like I was getting off easy while she had to slug it out in the trenches every day. Turns out Frank brought his own trenches with him, but nothing insurmountable. In the end we both were on the same page for the most part before we ever had the discussion. Now I’m back at my desk and ready to press “Retirement”. No hurry today, chicken livers and pork chops at the dinning hall. So I hit the button and the program closes, thus sealing my fate and the fate of the afore mentioned Kevin. Sorry buddy, golf is on me when you get back to Knoxville.
September of 2009 was the ceremony and the last time I put the uniform on. January 2011 was when the paper work finally got straightened out. Except for the small issue of the President and Chief of Staff of the Air Force thinking I’m a newly retired Colonel instead of a Master Sergeant, it all worked out in the end. In fact today, 28 September 2011, 22 years, 3 months, and 14 days after I was sworn in, I was finally issued my retired ID card. So it is completely official now. No longer do I have to feel guilty about being in my PJ’s all day.
I guess the only thing left to do now is call ESPN, get Jim Gray on the horn to do the interview and see if he can drag it out for an hour with inane babbling and placating before I announce I am keeping my talents in Knoxville for the foreseeable future. Non-basketball fans, go here, The Decision
For the record LeBron, real leaders, military schoolhouses full of better people than you and I will ever be, don’t run to the easy just because they can, they stay and do the hard, for the very fact that it is hard. Sleep tight America your Air Force is awake and at the ready.