Which is it: Quantity or Quality?

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Terry West
  • 53d Wing Command Chief
Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, "Never before have we had so little time in which to do so much." 

Those words, from our thirty-second President more than 63 years ago, are just as true today. There seems to be 30 hours worth of stuff to do in each given day. So what do we do? We get less sleep, we skip lunch, we miss our kid's ball game and band performance or we cut corners in order to get "the list" done. We generally get so wrapped up tackling the tasks at hand that we often neglect to spend the necessary amount of time with our Airmen at work or our families while at home. We use the same excuse folks have used for years,"it's the quality that matters, not the quantity". Although quality is very important, we cannot forget that QUANTITY matters just as much.

When it comes to quality, our core value of "excellence in all we do" means that quality should be done without question. We've all heard the expression; anything worth doing is worth doing right. There's no doubt in my mind that we all try to do the best job we possibly can. Now, more than even, we need to take a hard look at those technical orders, directives and operating instructions to ensure 100 percent compliance in our work areas. With that said, most would agree that quality should be an understood principle, so let's focus on the matter of quantity.

It's how we spend our time that really matters. We'll spend only a few minutes with our Airmen during the workday and the majority of our time staring at a seventeen-inch monitor. We fail to realize that time is essential to successfully train and lead our Airmen. The truth is, people generally make time for what they choose to do. Sir John Lubbock, a British statesman, said it best when he claimed, "it is not really the time but the will that is lacking." In other words, it comes down to our priorities. With the exception of faith and family, we must make our Airmen our number one priority in order to accomplish our mission. Our commitment to the oath we took to serve this great nation comes with the obligation to lead Airmen. And to be successful in leading, it takes time...lots of it!

In one of his letters to the Airmen of the Unites States Air Force, General Moseley, the former Air Force Chief of Staff, mentions that the Global War on Terror has now stretched out months longer than U.S. involvement in World War II. He goes on to say that because of the amount of time we have committed to continuous combat, we have become a better fighting force by using this time "to innovate and improve our tactics, technologies and training." In order to continue being the world's greatest Air Force, we need to manage our time wisely by striving to create the right balance that allows us not only to complete the daily tasks but also to spend sufficient amounts of time chatting with our leadership, our peers and most important, those we lead.

I reflect back to all of my training and life's lessons that I have attained throughout the years from those leaders who chose to spent lots of time with me. It goes well beyond my years of military service; it starts back to mom and dad who chose to train and teach a child that needed much training. They spent years of training to prepare me for my future challenges that were ahead; teaching me that the pillars of faith, family and country were to be the foundation in which to build. And in the process, they spent an immeasurable amount of time helping me make those foundations solid. Being a military member requires a lot of those same pillars and also requires an unlimited amount of time to build Airmen into future Air Force leaders. So the next time you find yourself stuck sitting behind the one-eyed monster; get up, get out, and spend time with your Airmen.

Last thought...some day we'll all be sitting in our own retirement ceremony. We'll once again reflect back over the years and reminisce about our lives as Airman. The attendees will listen to some of the career highlights and hear about some of the cool places we have traveled. But to me, the most important thing is this...I do not want to have to apologize to my family for time not spent with them over the years. Yes, there's always sacrifice when called to duty, but make sure that the time you spend aligns with your priorities. 

General Douglas MacArthur, one of the greatest military leaders of all time said this, "By profession, I'm a soldier and take great pride in that fact. But I am prouder, infinitely prouder, to be a father. A soldier destroys in order to build. The father only builds, never destroys. It is my hope that when I am gone, I will be remembered not from the battle, but in the home". So remember; quality is important, but QUANTITY is equally important.