In the hustle and bustle of business and life, it’s easy to forget to thank those who are our behind-the-scenes wingmen. They are the ones who accomplish the dirty work. They also help us navigate through turbulence and lift us up when our wings are clipped. They are our unsung heroes.
As a leader, it’s critical for you to take the time to pause and seek out those unsung heroes who are “in the trenches, turning the wrenches.” Let them know how much you appreciate them. Thank them for what they do and acknowledge the good that they accomplish.
As a result, they will go the extra mile and do what it takes to complete the mission. It also may be just what they need to break through a personal barrier or enough to inspire them to keep giving their wings away.
Fill their jets with the most important fuel of performance – appreciation.
Your Wingman, Waldo
Read the video transcript:
I remember one of the last active duty training missions I flew in an F-16.
I strapped it to the jet, cranked up the engine, and noticed the jet was shorted 500 pounds of fuel. Enough to cut that one hour mission short by five eternal minutes. I would be at a disadvantage with less fuel, and I was ticked off.
I knew there were 500 reasons why that jet may have been shorted – a little bit of air in the tank… an anomaly in the gauge…but I didn’t care about any of those reasons. All I knew, is that young 24 year old kid, right out of tech training, whose job it was to fuel that jet, probably messed up.
So I chewed him out. And shared some choice words that I won’t share with you fine people.
I went out and flew the jet, came back and hour or so later, taxied it to the hanger…feeling like King Kong. We beat the heck out of the enemy, and I watched as my commander was waiting for me on the tarmac by the jet.
He said, “Waldo, I heard about your conversation with your young crew chief.”
I said, “Yeah, so?” He then asked “Do you know how long that young kid was working on your jet today? Do you know what he went through?” I said, “Of course I do, Sir.”
He said, “No you don’t. You don’t know a damn thing. I want you to go find your oldest, ugliest, dirtiest flight suit and put it on tomorrow morning and walk the flight line with these young kids to see what they go through every single day so that you can do the coolest job in the world and fly the F-16.”
I said, “Yes, Sir.” Saluted and went about my business. I got up at the crack of dawn the next morning, and walked the flight line with these young kids, and did inspections in the intake of that F-16, in 105 degree weather, just like this young lady is doing.
I Never worked so hard in my life, and quite frankly, I didn’t have a clue what these kids did, and I didn’t care. I was the Captain. They worked for me. I was cocky, had a huge ego, and was not a wingman.
Then I went up to that young guy, shook his hand and said, “Thanks for what you do.”
Then I did something that I hoped would shift the conversation. I said, “I’m sorry for going off on you. And I’ll work on being a better wingman.” And I worked on building that relationship, that trust, that loyalty, one handshake at a time. Quite frankly, I don’t know if I ever got that kid’s trust back.
Trust, tough to gain, easy to lose.
So, here’s my challenge for you folks. Whose flight line do you need to walk?
Who are the unsung heroes, who are out there in the trenches, turning the wrenches, so that you could go out there to take on the competition….and grow, learn, adapt.
Find the good that your wingmen are doing and fill their jets with the most important fuel of performance, appreciation.