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No ‘offseason’ for professionals

Col. Anthony J. Mastalir, 50th Space Wing vice commander

Col. Anthony J. Mastalir, 50th Space Wing vice commander

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Fall is in the air, which means football season is once again underway.  It’s the time where professional players and coaches in the National Football League get an opportunity to measure the fruit of their offseason training regimen.  What the fans see on game day represents the culmination of months of hard work, dedication, self-sacrifice and commitment to achieving a single goal--a Super Bowl championship—and it all began the day after the last Super Bowl concluded.  In reality, there is no “offseason” if you are in professional football.

One of my favorite football icons is the legendary Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi, who once said, “Football is a great deal like life in that it teaches that work, sacrifice, perseverance, competitive drive, selflessness, and respect for authority is the price that each and every one of us must pay to achieve any goal worthwhile.”  Indeed, these words transcend football and speak to the importance of professionalism, no matter the field. 

The psychology of professionalism is a powerful concept.  How we view ourselves generally defines who we are.  There is no doubt the men and women of the 50th Space Wing are members of the Profession of Arms.  As Airmen we have committed ourselves to fly, fight, and win in air, space, and cyberspace.  We know our assigned mission is to command space and cyber systems to deliver global combat effects—it is our singular focus each and every day we report for duty.  But I’d argue being a professional is less about what you do and more about how you do it.  It begins with our aspirational identity—our own perception of who we are or who we would like to become.  It’s no coincidence the most elite athletes in the NFL envisioned their success many years before it came to fruition.  Self-images have transformational power, and viewing oneself as a professional is part of that transformational power.

When the Air Force Space Command Inspector General rolls onto Schriever Air Force Base this weekend, we’ll have an opportunity to showcase the effectiveness with which we execute the mission, manage resources, improve our units, and lead our people.  More importantly, we’ll have an opportunity to demonstrate the level of professionalism with which we accomplish our assigned tasks.  Not every program is perfect, not every area conforms to our aspirational identity of excellence.  We simply don’t have the resources or manpower to achieve perfection in all areas.  As professionals, we must show the IG the areas where we excel, as well as the areas that need more work.  The key to our success is demonstrating we know the difference.

I’m going to break precedent and congratulate you now for an outstanding inspection, before the first inspectors arrive on base.  I have no doubt our performance will reflect months of hard work, dedication, self-sacrifice and commitment that began the day after our last UEI concluded.  When it comes to the 50th Space Wing, there is no “offseason.”  Coach Lombardi once purported, “We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible.”  Team Five-O accomplishes the impossible every day.