The standard is the standard

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. David Gehrich
  • 92nd Logistics Readiness Squadron
If you are a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, you've heard this refrain repeatedly from Coach Mike Tomlin. As the Steelers suffered one key injury after another, the press would ask, "How will you be able to compete without star player X?" Coach Tomlin made it clear that the Steelers were a team and he expected everyone on the team to meet the standards that helped make the Steelers successful.

Many people thought this outlook was absurd. How can anyone expect the team to be as successful without their star players? If you didn't need the star players, why are they paid so much more than the back-ups?

Those critics missed the point. Coach Tomlin wasn't saying the team didn't need the players; he was emphasizing that the Steelers were a team. They may not dominate without the stars, but he still expected the team to play well and to win. Emphasizing the team concept and his expectations enabled the Steelers to perform well and even reach the Superbowl despite critical injuries.

This is a key lesson for all of us in the Air Force today. Every day we are faced with the same issue: key personnel missing from the duty section. And yet, we have a mission to accomplish which is much more critical than competing in any football game ever played.

There is a natural inclination to let down our guard and settle for the unacceptable when the going gets tough, even though the Air Force has provided us with a clear road map. Our Air Force Instructions clearly spell out what our standards are. As long as every member of the team is meeting those standards, the Air Force will meet its mission. As members of the team, it is our responsibility to ensure we understand the standards and work hard to not let the team down. Will the team perform as brilliantly as when all the star players are present? No. But we will accomplish the mission and meet our nation's strategic goals.