Doing the hard things

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Thatcher Cardon
  • 55th Aerospace Medicine Squadron commander
Do you do hard things? Would you choose to do something you don't like to do?

I took a professional survey once that was designed to help me choose a career. It asked a lot of questions such as, "would you rather type a label or glue a label on a bottle?" or "would you rather work outside or inside?" I was very interested to see what this marvel of psychological science could tell me about my character and what would be good career choices. The answer was "You don't like school so you probably shouldn't seek an advanced degree."

I was pretty upset. What kind of advice was that? First of all, who says I have to like something to do it. This attitude does occur with some people; but, even they do things they don't like because the consequence is even less desirable. I don't like brushing/flossing my teeth but I do it anyway because I don't like the alternative, rotten teeth. An important secret about some things that aren't "fun" is that, with practice, they can be enjoyable.

I was very proud of one of my Airmen who I spoke with recently. As we talked about his educational goals it was clear that he didn't relish the thought of being in school again but he knew that it was important for his career, income and family so he was doing it, and doing it well. Others I have talked with aren't as enlightened.

I hope that every Airman in the 55th Wing and the Air Force realizes what an amazing array of resources and opportunities are available and that they take advantage of them. I once talked with a woman who had aspirations to be a physician but she was starting a bit later than most. She told me that people would say, "You'll be 50 before you're out of school." Her reply was, "Well I'm going to be 50 eventually anyway. I'm going to be 50 and a doctor." I liked her attitude and have used the story to encourage people in their goals.

Education isn't always book learning and homework though it's hard to avoid that completely. Personal and career development can take so many different shapes and the Air Force supports so many. It's hard to work and go to school, but it only gets harder the older you get.

Doing hard things can get to be a habit. We do hard things here in the 55th Wing at Offutt. We make a habit of it and it shows. Be sure to extend the drive and commitment displayed here to the rest of your life: marriage, family, kids, religion, fitness and health. Do hard things they're usually the only things worthwhile.