No matter what, enthusiasm saves lives

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. John LaForgia
  • 407th Air Expeditionary Group
Have you ever gone up to a clinic reception desk or a customer service counter at a store and encountered someone who gave you the impression he would rather be somewhere else or that you were disturbing him?

I'll bet you can remember the time when you waited in line to pay for gas and when you got to the cashier you were greeted by an enthusiastic employee who had a friendly, warm smile, and when you left you received a sincere "Thank you." If you're like me, you felt good about your encounter and wondered why more people aren't like this.

There was a time in the military, not so long ago, when there was a special feeling on an Air Force base because most people displayed a level of enthusiasm where just about everywhere you went people made eye contact with each other and gave a genuine and sincere greeting.

Have you noticed that, for the most part, those days are a thing of the past. Now, it seems like a rarity if you walk by someone on base and they do actually say hi to you.
OK, so what's wrong with that? Encountering an enthusiastic employee usually makes people feel good. When people feel good, they have a tendency to enjoy coming to work, to do a better job, and to be more professional. Things just seem to run smoother and better in an environment where people show and display enthusiasm on a regular basis.

On the other hand, an unenthusastic workcenter has a negative atmosphere where people usually keep to themselves, give mediocre customer service, would rather be somewhere else, and constantly talk about wanting to PCS, etc. When people feel this way, they usually have a poor attitude toward their job, co-workers, family members, and the Air Force. Their focus is usually on getting out of work and cutting corners rather than contributing positively to the mission.

In the Air Force, especially at an austere, deployed location like Ali Base, a positive attitude and enthusiasm are extremely important for a variety of reasons. As I tell people at their Right Start briefing, the minute you arrive at Ali Base, the train is moving pretty fast. There's no time to stand on the platform and wait for the next train. You must hop on the train and stay on track for the entire deployment because many people are counting on you to perform the job you've been trained to do.

To me, being positive and enthusiastic is not all that difficult. It's choosing to see the positive things in life and not dwelling on the negative things we can't change. It's also just being courteous, friendly and treating people the same way you want to be treated. It's pretty simple stuff.

I've found enthusiastic people step up to the plate and perform their jobs without being constantly told what to do. And when they do, vital equipment and more importantly the lives of their fellow Airmen are saved.