Resiliency matters

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Andrew T. Silkworth, 436th Aerial Port Squadron interim superintendent

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. – There is little doubt that, during the course of an Airman’s career, a trial or crisis will arise that causes the need for the member to dig deep and to muster spiritual strength to continue. These challenges present themselves through many facets and stressors, whether it be an unexpected family or financial crisis, an unpopular feedback session or counseling or the seemingly relentless method our daily way of life can tend to present itself to us. I’ll tell you: Throughout the course of my now 22-year career, I’ve faced my fair share of challenges, too.

Recently, a member asked in candid conversation, “Hey, Senior, what is it that has made you so resilient throughout your career?” I recall being taken back a little by the question, as I had never really been posed with a query like that before. Thinking back, it’s easy to say, “Well, it’s the culture of Airmanship that has been engrained in me for nearly two decades, right?” Well, that’s definitely a part of it, but I think there’s a little more to it than that.

When the world seems to be on your shoulders, here’s what works for me when trying to find that ounce of resilience:

Remember, everything is not about you! It’s about the Airmen and families around you more than you think … and they’re watching and feeding off of you. The reason I laced my boots this morning was because I know I have a family and a body of Airmen depending on me to be there for them today; they are my primary driver. They are always watching you and learning from your resiliency. More often than not, they’re more than willing to lend you a hand, so take it!

Take your challenge one piece at a time. Trying to take on too much of a load all at once will wear you out quickly, especially if there’s seemingly no end to the challenge in sight. Try to break it down, and digest it piece by piece or, sometimes, day by day. This approach has absolutely helped me tackle some monster challenges I thought I’d never get through.

Find your warrior spirit to help motivate you through the super tough ones. There’s no rhyme or reason to this one, as everyone’s warrior spirit is and will be different, and we find and may change them throughout our careers. I’ll tell you mine is the memory of an awesome Airman leader and coach in Maj. David W. Gray. Maj. Gray was a Tactical Air Control Party/Air Liaison Officer who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2012. I was fortunate to have served with him several years prior, and I’ll never forget his leadership. Our paths had only crossed but for a minute, but the ripple effect of that crossing resounds with me to this day, and that’s all it takes. When my going gets tough, I reflect back on his memory and the sacrifice he made for all of us. That’s what drives me through.

These are just a few things that define my ability to be a resilient Airman. They may not all apply to or work for everyone, but if any aspect of my philosophy helps you, use it to get after it!