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Finding the right work-life balance makes all the difference

  • Published
  • By Command Chief Master Sgt. Brian Hornback
  • Air Force Global Strike Command
As we progress in our Air Force careers we take on more responsibilities, which often times equates to longer hours and increased demands of our time. We begin to face more challenges in our work-life balance that can affect our families and our duty performance.

As a command chief, I always use the importance of balance in one's life as a talking point when addressing our Airmen, but in truth I have found my own work-life balance, to be out of balance. With the professional demands placed on my time as Air Force Global Strike Command's senior enlisted leader - to include numerous TDYs in support of the command, our Air Force and our Joint partners - I found I had very little time left over for my family. That fact was beginning to take a toll on my relationship with my youngest daughter - so much for following my own advice!

As a father of three girls, I always had a challenge in making that connection. Compounding the problem was my ever-increasing rank and responsibility, not to mention numerous deployments. I've missed many birthdays, school events and holidays over the years but I kept pressing forward. The youngest of my three daughters is the only one left at home, and all of the sudden she is now a teenager. My wife has mentioned to me several times that I need to take up a hobby, other than fitness, in order to reduce stress with the hope that it would be something both my daughter and I could do together.

A while back, I bought a Jeep, and thought about lifting it and going 4-wheeling with my daughter, which was promptly met with a resounding "No." I then began to follow my wife around and ask questions like, "So what do you want to do?" Overall, this strategy was not going well, and I finally understood what my wife was asking of me and what I needed to do.

About a year ago, we got our daughter into archery, which I had also done as a young man in New Mexico. She took to it almost immediately, started shooting in tournaments and really enjoyed it. It provided me a decision point, so I bit the bullet and purchased a bow for myself knowing that it would require time to get the rust off and get back into shooting form. My daughter and I began this journey together, and it has truly been beneficial for us. Archery is a wonderful sport as it pits you against yourself, requiring focus and practice to be competitive in tournaments.

Since the decision to purchase my bow, I found something wonderful; I discovered a connection with my teenage daughter that I was missing. We spend hours just shooting and talking while challenging one-another to get better through friendly competition. My professional travel schedule has not changed and neither have the demands on my time. What has changed is how I choose to manage my off-time, and more importantly, the quality of it.

I found during this journey that I have a wonderful daughter who is turning into an incredible young lady; filled with dreams of someday shooting competitively at the professional level. I found that my wife and I communicate more effectively and that there is real peace in the Hornback family. What I really discovered was the benefits of balance, and in doing so I noticed that I have more energy and commitment than ever before in both my work and my life.

Now, if you are thinking this is all about the benefits of taking up archery, you'd be wrong. This is about finding the required balance in your life and making a commitment to it. As I said, nothing has changed as far as the demands placed on my time. What has changed is what I choose to do with the time I have when I am off-duty. The most important part of all this is the memories that are being forged with my family, and it was as simple as taking responsibility for making a positive change.