• AFSOC Unfiltered: Conforming...or Assimilating? - Episode 3

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    August 17, 2020
    Written by Lt. Gen. James C. “Jim” Slife, Commander, Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Florida

    In this episode of “AFSOC Unfiltered,” Lt. Col. Chivis and I talk about what it takes to be part of our Air Force and the expectations leaders have of their Airmen. At one point, Lt. Col. Chivis recalls an exchange he and I had some years ago during which I rather cavalierly informed him of a set of unwritten expectations...which were more about my unconscious bias than they were about Air Force standards. The result was physically painful for him. This episode is cringe-worthy and embarrassing for me, but it’s a rich discussion.

    Listen and watch here.

    All Airmen must conform to the standards of behavior, appearance and performance when they enter military service. But, as I have learned, some Airmen are asked to do more; these Airmen have to put aside a little bit more of themselves in order to be accepted by the majority.

    So what does this mean for those of us who are entrusted to lead Airmen?

    It's past time for us to start thinking about the subtle pieces of our culture that create undue or unfair burdens on our teammates. As I mentioned earlier, this series is going to be raw at times and future episodes will take an ever stronger tone.

    I hope this episode encourages you to revisit moments of your past. Maybe there are moments you wish you could take back and extend some understanding instead of passing judgment. I know I do...this episode showcases one of them.

    We’re all works in progress. But by listening to our teammates and learning from their life experiences, we can be better leaders. Thanks, Myron, for making me a better version of myself.
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