Brene Brown, PhD, a research professor at University of Houston, wrote, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.” This is foreign thinking to us as members in the Air Force regardless of what level you find yourself. We are “Sentries and Avengers, our Nation’s Sword and Shield” right? That doesn’t really go together with being vulnerable, but I agree with Dr. Brown in that it enables innovation, creativity, change and promotes trust. Former 374th Wing Commander, Col (Ret.) Douglas Delamater, constantly said, “We move at the speed of trust.”
So you’ll have to humor a 24-year Chief as I get vulnerable in my first ever BLOG. If my mother could see me now. Given its Mother’s Day, I wonder if this can count as a gift. LoL So, I finally get my dream assignment to Malmstrom AFB, Montana. For me, being an outdoors guy, loving to hunt, fish, camp, etc. it really was a dream come true. I had the opportunity to put 1000 miles on my four wheelers with my 2 daughters and wife. I did endless camping trips with family and friends and killed my first elk. I was able to be part of a Missile Wing for the first time, life was great. 11-months later, I got non-volunteered to Yokota AB. Being all in and wanting to just continue to take care of Airmen, we came to Japan with open minds and a sense of anticipation for future opportunities.
Flying in on the rotator it hit me, I wasn’t in Kanas anymore or Montana. I’ve heard it called a “Concrete Jungle”, with over 35 Million people. I’ve been in major cities all over the world but this was dense and the biggest I’ve seen in my life. Initially, I believe my family and I had culture shock and were home sick for the mountains and the great outdoors. That soon turned into depression even for an optimistic, fired up Chief. So how did I cope with it or I should say how DO I cope with this still today?
Shockingly, GET SOME comes to mind. First I got a Group of friends and got involved. Both in the community (base and local) and in my church. My faith in God has proven to be a steadfast source of strength. I’ve never been in a tighter Chiefs’ Group either; these truly are my brothers and sisters. Getting to know our friendship club has been rewarding as well. Our friendship club took us walking on fire, throwing beans, and other Japanese cultural events. This all took Effort though. I put in the effort to change my situation and attitude which affected my altitude. Effort in being vulnerable with those I didn’t know or yet trust. I had to give this place Time and be patient. One weekend and one event doesn’t make up the year. I had to give the new people I met time as well. It was also important for me to take care of mySelf. You can’t have “Service before Self” without SELF. You have to take care of yourself; if you run out of resources or the ability, get help, at least let someone know. It might be something different for all of us. I was Open with my friends (new and old), my wife, with those I worked with, and my fellow Chiefs. I shared with them my struggles and I was surprised to find out a lot of them had the same struggles. They shared how they got through them or were there to support me through mine. I tried to stay on the Move and check out Japan, whether through trips or events. We have gone on trips to Tokyo, go-karted Tokyo twice, taken the bullet train to Hiroshima, climbed Mt. Fuji, and traveled to a few other countries like Vietnam and Thailand. Most of our families are living vicariously through us while in Japan as most won’t ever make it here. We need to try to experience and see everything we possibly can while here, if not only for us only, then for our families wherever they may live.
Lastly, show Emotion and show passion. If it’s okay for Brig. Gen. Michael Minihan, Deputy Director of Operations, HQ PACAF, in his speech at the Wing’s recent Dining Out, to state at the beginning of his speech that he may cry, then it is ok for all of us to show emotion. I believe emotion and passion goes hand-in-hand with being vulnerable. CMSgt Eric Evers, AMXS Squadron Superintendent, in his speech as the ALS mentor started his speech off with, “I’m very nervous if you couldn’t tell.” It totally changed his outlook on the rest of the speech and set him and the audience at ease. When we show emotion and passion we are being vulnerable with people, which inspires them to more easily trust and be committed to you.
So I leave you with this as a challenge, be vulnerable when leading and when you face adversity. Remember too, you’re not the first nor the last to be faced with the obstacle or challenge you are facing. GO GET SOME! Get a GROUP of friends and co-workers, put out the EFFORT to be vulnerable and work at friendships and make your situation better. Give it TIME to get better. Take care of yourSELF. Be OPEN with friends and co-workers. Stay on the MOVE and stay occupied and busy. Lastly, show some EMOTION; be passionate, vulnerable, and care.
DON’T SUFFER IN SILENCE! Your friends, families, and leadership don’t know what they don’t know; you need to be vulnerable and tell them. You’re not the only one going through what you’re going through nor will you be the first or the last. Thanks for reading this BLOG and let me know if I can help in any way.
- CMSgt Tim Davidson, Superintendent, 374th Medical Group