Leadership begins with you: look inward first, then lead

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Anthony Cruz-Munoz
  • 36th Contingency Response Group
I loved when Clint Eastwood yelled to his troops in the movie Heartbreak Ridge "when you start looking like Marines, you'll start acting like Marines." 

As leaders in the military it is expected of us to look like leaders. Does this mean that we all have to look like Gunny Highway or Laura Croft? No. 

It means that in order for you to lead others you must first be able to lead yourself. As Air Force members it is our job to take the fight to the enemy in the Air and Space domains. As Air Force leaders we must lead from the front and to do that we need to be in shape and look professional. Once the bullets start flying it's too late to get your body right. 

While deployed during the first part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, my squadron went through 18 different Alarm Red, MOPP 4's. After the first two weeks, we were dragging because of the lack of sleep, long hours, and the high ops tempo. You could tell who was in shape and who wasn't. Hint, hint -- the leaders and go-getters were making things happen. 

The Chief of Staff of the Air Force has given us his marching orders on what he expects when it comes to fitness and setting the right example when it comes to professional appearance. I firmly believe that the right example starts with fitness. As leader's we owe it to the young Airmen to be physically fit. If you don't think that the young Airmen don't take a hard look at their boss when it comes to fitness, dress, and appearance then you're sadly mistaken. 

We have a relatively new $16 million fitness center here with lots of equipment and many programs. Take advantage of it. There are no excuses for not being in shape in this environment - it's the same lovely temperature all year around. If you need some help to get into "better shape" - we all should be in good shape - the staff at the fitness center is trained to get you in shape. They will educate you on the equipment and show you how the equipment can help make you bigger, faster, and stronger. 

There is one snag in all this however. If you eat donuts and drink soda pop all day long you can hang it up. Nutrition is equally important as working out. We are in a state of war now and the foreseeable future. Our minds and body must be at a high level if we are to survive and prevail in this turbulent time we live in.