‘Tis the season for family and friends’

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- As a young officer, I spent many long hours working and have deployed several times. I have always enjoyed my job and didn't mind because it was part of accomplishing the mission. I have always taken pride in belonging to something that was bigger than me.

Of course my focus on the mission hasn't changed, but something I heard often as a young officer is really just starting to sink in with me. I always heard about achieving a "proper balance" from various leaders and mentors throughout my career.

As an avid runner, I think I internalize it as hitting the roads or trails for some running and exercise. While important, I didn't make the trip home to see my family as often as I probably should have. Some bosses I really respected would always remind me about the importance of family and not to forget this aspect of achieving balance in your life. While I always understood their point intellectually, I was young and single, and the emotional importance of that message didn't really sink in until I experienced an important life-changing event.

It is amazing the impact children can have on your perspective, and I learned that firsthand with the recent addition to our family of our young son and daughter. Simple advice such as achieving a balance really started to sink in. While I know that I will still work long hours at times and will be called again to deploy in support of our nation at war, I also know the rejuvenating effect time with family and friends can have. I just wish I had not neglected that as much when I was younger.

While I have always had loving and wonderful parents, with the birth of my children, I have more of an appreciation now of how important they were in shaping me into who I am today.

We all have loved ones that are important to us and as the holiday season approaches, it is important to once again take time to ensure we have that proper balance. I realize every day you spend with your family is a blessing, and as my children get bigger, I realize how time really does fly by. Watching your children utter their first words and taking their first step is something you will always remember.

Your family and friends will be there long after your Air Force career is no longer central in your life. Take the time to strengthen those bonds over the holiday season. It will help you reconnect with who you are and how you have made it to this point in your life. It will refresh you and help you tackle the difficult challenges that are always part of accomplishing the mission.

As a first-time commander, I find myself remembering this advice and earnestly relaying it along from an earlier generation of Air Force leaders and mentors to my fellow squadron mates. I am more focused on the mission than I have ever been before in my career, but I know it is the people I work with who must accomplish the mission. I have had the opportunity to learn a little about families, friends, hobbies and interests of the men and women of the 42nd Contracting Squadron. I know that if they achieve the right balance in their lives, they will be better prepared to accomplish the mission successfully.

I hope their holiday season will be as joyful as possible. By finding the right balance, we will all be better able to accomplish the mission.