What’s on your bucket list?
By Maj. James Serra, 721st Security Forces Squadron
/ Published July 30, 2014
CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. --
Recently, I had the pleasure of hiking to the top of Cheyenne Mountain. Actually, in this case, "hike" and "pleasure" are not exactly the right words. You see, there is no trail conveniently laid out with railroad ties found on the very popular Manitou Incline. In fact, there is no trail at all. It's also steeper than the Incline, gains more altitude over a longer distance and your only guide to the top is the power lines that climb up the face of the mountain. One other thing, Col. John Shaw, the 21st Space Wing commander, was my guest on this trek.
Don't misunderstand. Col. Shaw's company on this excursion is not the reason I question using the terms "hike" and "pleasure." Instead, "climb" would be more accurate and the word "pleasure" does not enter your mind on the journey to the top. But once you get to the summit, there is no shortage of adjectives to describe the view and you know that it was worth the effort. In fact, right after several attempts to get the perfect "selfie" of himself with Pike's Peak in the background, Col. Shaw mentioned to me that climbing to the top of Cheyenne Mountain was on his commander's bucket list.
My change of command ceremony has happened and this comment got me wondering about my own commander's bucket list. However, I remember two years ago coming into this job with a lot of plans. Of course, these plans included things I wanted to accomplish, things I wanted to change and in general, things that would eventually define the type of command tour I would have.
If anyone is not familiar with the Shipley Four Lenses personality assessment, it helps people determine which color classifies their dominant personality traits and how to get along better with others who are opposite them on the color spectrum.
I'm about as "orange" as you can get and live in the present, so creating lists is not exactly my modus operandi (method of operation). But in retrospect, I honestly regret not writing these things down or formalizing them in an "official" bucket list. If I had a chance to do it all over again, that would be one thing I'd do differently right from the beginning. My wife, Sara, a solid "green," is much more abstract and research-oriented according to the Four Lenses. She is the organized one in the family and loves to create lists, so I'd have her review it to make sure it was an effective product first.
I feel having a list of desired accomplishments and being able to see how many accomplishments have been crossed off is one way to measure progress, and to some degree, success, provided those accomplishments are directed toward the health and improvement of the unit. As I look back now over the last two years, a bucket list is one tool I wish I had.
Now, I don't want to give the impression that I didn't have any goals. I had many in fact. I just didn't organize them on a piece of paper and laminate it for safekeeping. However, forever engraved on my "internal" bucket list are the most important ones: Promote and instill into my Airmen integrity and professionalism 24 hours a day, seven days a week, make them realize that my time is no longer my own, it is, in fact, their time and I work for them. The same philosophy should apply to you if you are someone's supervisor. Ensure everyone is proficient in their job. You can't be a "professional" without "proficiency."
In the end, or perhaps more fittingly, at the beginning, the most important goal I set for myself was quite simple: Leave the unit a better place than when I arrived. Was I able to check that goal off my bucket list? I hope so. I sincerely believe that I did. I hope others, friends, family, leadership, but most importantly, the wonderful Airmen of the 721st Security Forces Squadron, would agree.