LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. –
What is mentorship to you? Many of you have already stopped reading this article for fear of involuntary narcolepsy... allow me a minute to peak your interest before move on to something more exciting. I promise to spark something in you.
There are many great sources of mentorship available. However I would like to focus on why we need to mentor versus the source of mentorship. Mentorship is the single most important interaction we have with one another.
You might be thinking I'm full of "it" for stating something so bold. I propose this to you: mentorship is vital for mission success, and if we don't incorporate it into our daily missions, we are destined to fail.
I know many great Airmen, past and present, through reading and personal interaction. One undeniable fact about every Airman is... get ready for it...not one Airman entered the Air Force with a 9 skill level. Every Airman graduated from some form of basic and formal training.
Every step along the way we were mentored, albeit by a mean military training instructor or a merciless upper classman. In the end, we rise to great heights because we challenge our personal capabilities, and gain knowledge and experience from our mentors. So why then have we gotten so far away from this basic concept?
Great mentors teach by example. They wear our uniform correctly, they don't violate safety standards, and they are critically constructive supporters for everything we do. Kind of sounds like our core values: Integrity First, Service before Self and Excellence in all we do.
Young NCO's want mentorship, and need to know how to mentor. They attend professional military education, but this often is rushed education, and very little knowledge or "real" experiences are retained. What they crave is experience and mentorship from commanders and senior NCOs. How can we expect them to mentor Airmen if we as senior NCOs are not doing what we have been charged to do according to the Enlisted Force Structure?
On the flip side of this argument, I've heard senior NCOs complaining about today's Airmen; that they don't listen and don't care. I wonder why that is? Did you take 30 seconds today to mentor someone, or did you pass on the chance to promote greatness?
I must admit. from the moment I chose to write this article I sought mentorship from every possible source. These sources helped to prepare my thoughts for this article. I reflected on how mentoring played a major role in my belief of the Core Values.
Lastly, mentorship for me is more than a word or catch phrase, it's a process I've learned and embraced. It is about challenging myself, and drawing on the experiences of others to become a better Airman. So I ask you again... What is mentorship to you?