“Mission first, people always.” This saying, or some variation of it, is common throughout the Air Force as a direction for good leadership. I admit, as a young NCO I often scoffed at it. I tend to look at things mathematically. If I’m going to dedicate myself 100 percent to the mission, how can I always do what’s right for my people and their families 100 percent of the time? The answer is, of course, you can’t, but as I have progressed through my career I have gained a progressively better understanding of this phrase and how to apply it.