The courage to maximize

F. E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- The word leadership may conjure up visions of many people or attributes we believe a leader should possess. Certainly, I prefer some leaders to others, and the few examples here may be extraordinary individuals. My favorite leaders are the successful wartime presidents and other leaders who were committed to their cause for the greater good of humanity at great risk to their own lives and made the impossible seem possible. George Washington spent nearly six years on the battlefield fighting for our nation's freedom. Washington was never blessed with enough personnel, weapons, clothing, food or shelter. Nevertheless, Washington's commitment helped win the Revolutionary War and earn our nation's freedom from Great Britain. President Abraham Lincoln led our nation through the Civil War, Franklin D. Roosevelt through World War II, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led the civil rights movement each with limited resources.

Over the past few decades, there has been a rising wave of the sense of entitlement among our nation and some military members. Today, we face reductions in personnel and budgets, and the call for committed leaders is once again necessary. As a nation and military service, since the time of Washington, we have never had unlimited resources or what we wanted. What many of these great leaders possessed when they lacked resources was resourcefulness. This is where the great leaders get the best bang for their buck. Great leaders maximize their resources through vision, creativity, will and commitment to get the job done.

Great leaders keep in mind that they are servants first and know they cannot lead by demand or position unless they want their leadership to last for a short period of time. Some leaders are very resourceful. We can give them almost nothing and they can accomplish almost anything. While others can be given all the resources they need and accomplish nothing while having everything. As we hear of funding and personnel shortages once again, I challenge all of you to be resourceful leaders. Take what you have and with some inspiration, vision, creativity and commitment I believe our Air Force will survive just fine. As I have said on many occasions, the sun will come up tomorrow, the Earth will continue to rotate and opportunities to shine will present themselves.

If you believe you need more resources, I challenge you to ask yourself a few questions. What would you do with additional resources? Are these truly needed or will they just make your job easy? Are you able to complete your tasks with the resources you currently have? If not how have you completed your mission in the past lacking these resources? How do you know you need additional resources? Is there a mind-set that cares about weights and measures more than the meaning? If we are measuring, are we measuring the things worth measuring? Do we know how to measure what we set out to measure? Are we attaching more importance to things we measure and missing other areas equally important?

We are never going to have all the resources we want. But do we have the resources we need? Have we envisioned just how we can use the resources we have or the resources we would like to have? Have we been creative in using the resources we have? Do we have the will to change things to match our resources and do things smartly? Are we committed to what we do and always do the right thing? Maximizing our resources can ensure we complete our mission even when we feel we are short of what is needed.

Great leaders throughout our nation's history have completed great feats when they maximized the use of their resources. In the words of Dwight D. Eisenhower, "what counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight; it's the size of the fight in the dog." What size is your fight with maximizing available resources?