The Exit Interview

Imageby J. William DeMarco

In the Military we have a rather unique “tradition” of the exit interview.  When a commander is about to leave, public affairs or in the case of the Bloody Hundredth, the Wing Historian will give a quick interview regarding accomplishments, plans and vision.  It seemed to last no more than five minutes with about five questions… but in a way those questions are a bit irrelevant as all the answers led back to the talented people we have in today’s military….and I hope in our nation.

One thing that was clear as I attempted to answer the historian’s queries… there is no way to do any of this by yourself.  There are leaders that are quite happy to grab the spotlight and point it at themselves, but there is a major step in any person’s development as a leader when that light leaves you–it shines on the people and you realize… you don’t need the light.

I like to kid myself that I have vision, plenty of ideas, and pretty vast amounts of energy…but if a leader wants a vision to get traction and big…there are only two choices:  A) Give up the vision…it’s too big… one person can’t do it…. or 2) GET HELP!

There is no way to do anything without people… in the AF we are lucky to have some of the world’s finest, but do they know it? Our soon to be new Chief of Staff, Gen Welsh is fond of saying…”you don’t know how good you are.”  That rings true in the US Military… and it has probably been true throughout the history of our country.  But it dawns on me…we need to let them know that WE as a nation cannot win (in any endeavor) without them.

“We should not only use all the brains we have–but all we can borrow”  – President Woodrow Wilson

We can’t stop at brains… smarts….we need our people’s hands and hearts as well…this is what has made our country great…no?

“There are no problems we cannot solve together, and very few that we can solve by ourselves.” –President Lyndon B Johnson

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