Want to succeed? Then take people with you

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Darcy Standish
After 28 years in the Air Force, I now look back to how it started and assess whether I've realized what I wanted from the Air Force.

As most of you know, everyone joins the Air Force for different reasons. Some join for patriotism, school, to accompany a friend or even to follow in a parent's footsteps. Both of my parents served in the Air Force, and my mother always told me how great it was and how she wished she could have served longer. During my parent's Air Force era, you had to have your commander's permission to get married, and women were not allowed to remain on active duty once they became pregnant. So, two of my initial goals were to make the Air Force a career and to surpass my mother's rank of staff sergeant.

I enlisted when I was 17 and began my career in operations resource management, which is now called aviation resource management.

I made technical sergeant prior to losing my mother to cancer, but she stood her ground as still outranking me. As my mother and mentor, she passed on her insights on how to succeed in the Air Force. She told me to always do my best and to share my knowledge along my journey so others could also succeed.

During my career I was fortunate to have mentors to share their wisdom and to encourage me to gain competence in my job, complete professional military education at the earliest opportunity, finish my Community College of the Air Force degree, volunteer for base and/or civilian community activities and when possible compete for awards to set me above my peers.

From day one, I applied what my mentors told me, but my mother's advice burned in my heart more than any others. I was driven to "take people with me" along my road to success. I also learned early on that the more I knew, the more my supervisors empowered me to take on greater responsibilities. Knowledge truly was power, because my knowledge helped me get a senior NCO position as a young staff sergeant, my first Meritorious Service Medal and every leadership job since.

I truly believe, however, it was my coworkers' teamwork in every situation that helped me earn awards and each of my promotions, especially senior and chief master sergeant. As a form of gratitude and to ensure they were rewarded for their efforts, I made recognition programs one of my top priorities.

As I filled my first SNCO position, I realized the impact I could have on others. My career field leaders rewarded me with group and major command level functional manager positions, and in 2000 when I made chief, I was appointed as the first female Air Force ARM career field manager -- the most rewarding job in my career.

Following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, as I returned to work the next day, walking up the stairs to the fifth floor of the Pentagon, down the smoke filled hallway to my office, my emotions were already distraught. It hit me all at once however, as I sat at my desk and read through the heartfelt e-mails sent to me from the Airmen in my career field wanting to make sure I survived the attack and asking what they could do to help me. This showed me the CFM position was where I could make the biggest difference in my career.

In the aftermath of those attacks, more than 2,800 ARM specialists stepped up to the challenge to improve our aviation resource management system, our technical school's curriculum and aviation management Air Force Instructions, and to create a top-level chief ARM course for our SNCOs to learn how to fill our top management positions.

I gained new inspiration and drive through their active role and positive attitude improving our career field. They motivated me to continue past the CFM job and return to the field to continue mentoring and teaching others to succeed.

Regardless of Air Force specialty code, I pass on, like all chiefs do, the same information my mentors told me years ago when I began my career: gain competence in your job, get your PME and CCAF completed, compete for awards and volunteer for community activities.

Throughout the ranks, I never strayed from the path my mother sent me down. I have done my best and most importantly continue to share my knowledge to help others succeed.

Looking back, making chief was not the most rewarding achievement of my career, but taking people with me was the highlight.