Efficiency, innovation: Lessons we can learn from the past

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Connie L. Bias
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
When a holiday comes around, I'll admit I don't normally spend much time commemorating the day's founding event. I'm usually more concerned with how much sleep I can make up on my extra day off.

Periodically, though, I'll find myself reflecting on the holiday at hand, and such was the case Monday as I meandered toward an afternoon Columbus Day nap.

As I'm sure we all remember from elementary school, Christopher Columbus was a ship navigator whose unsuccessful attempts to reach India via the Atlantic Ocean in the late 1400s led him to the New World, or the Americas. His voyages also led to the European colonization of the Western Hemisphere. Though Columbus was not the first explorer to run into the Americas, and certainly did not bring with him the first culture of the land, his "discovery" did, to say the least, mark a defining era in the path of the West's cultural growth and direction. To say the man had great affect upon our lives today, whether you're of the mind that his affect was positive or negative, would be a notable understatement.

But how does the life of Christopher Columbus affect us in actionable terms? What positive lessons can we take from this man from centuries ago and apply to our lives today?

Columbus' passion for finding a more efficient way of doing business - a newer, quicker sea route to India and China - is so appropriate for our Air Force today that it's almost uncanny. Just as the Italian man, working for the Spanish government, was tasked with discovering new land and trading routes to move the country forward in evolving land claims, so are we as Airmen tasked with discovering new, more efficient ways of furthering the Air Force's expeditionary mission with a tighter force. Columbus used his passions and talents to create new options and successes for his homeland. We must do the same for our country and military.

Clearly our explorations into new territories do not include sailing around the globe in search of land. As Airmen, our search is for a flexible, deployable, educated force; highly efficient operations at home and abroad; and continual success in the Global War on Terrorism. To strengthen our march toward these end goals, the Air Force needs people with new, innovative ideas to come forward, put those ideas into practice and share them with others who stand to benefit. We need Airmen to be deployment ready, willing to travel to new places and able to complete their mission anywhere, at any time. We need our warriors to remain focused on doing their part to drive out terrorism and those who would desecrate the freedoms our families enjoy and depend upon.

Of course, when you have that break from your Air Force mission, by all means take it. (And don't call me; I'll be sleeping!) Perhaps, though, you can also take a moment to consider why we're honoring that particular day or person. In this case, perhaps it's appropriate to realize that the forward-blazing, original mindset of a 15th-century explorer is exactly the mindset we need today.