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By Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Lambert, Space Base Delta 1
/ Published September 20, 2022
U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Lambert, Space Base Delta 1 senior enlisted Airman, poses for an official photo at the studio on Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado, July 17, 2021. “The military lifestyle is very fast paced and sometimes pushes us out of the present. Sometimes the present is the best place, and we miss out on it because we are rushing to the next best thing,” said Lambert. (U.S. Space Force photo by Craig Denton)
U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Kevin Lambert attends an Air National Guard sniper school in Camp Guernsey, Wyoming in 2000. Chief Master Sgt. Lambert joined the USAF in 1998 and has over 20 years of service. (Courtesy photo)
I grew up in a small town in Gallup, New Mexico, as the youngest of seven children. After graduating high school, I moved to Maryland to start college and work a couple different jobs until I decided to join the U.S. Air Force in 1998.
On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, at my first assignment, I sat in the Schriever Air Force Base dining facility when the tragic events unfolded. Everyone was left in a state of devastation, but also with a renewed drive to serve.
Twenty years had passed, and I found myself back in that very same dining facility on the 20th anniversary of 9/11; this time, as a chief master sergeant. I was thankful for the opportunity to serve in the same squadron that I had as an Airman Basic.
Although many of us join the military for a variety of reasons, we all should take the time to think about what it means to serve in the military. As I sat eating breakfast that morning, after 20 years of service, I reflected on why I chose to serve and how I’ve grown as an Airman.
My first piece of advice would be to always have a leadership philosophy regardless of your rank or position. We are all leaders in our own right – having a leadership philosophy not only gives us something to work toward, but it also holds us accountable to what we aspire to be. I created my leadership philosophy based off another chief’s advice a long time ago. He told me to give before you take. This philosophy not only builds trust between the people, but it also helps leaders to be servant from the beginning of any relationship.
We, as servant leaders, should focus on developing our force by looking for learning opportunities and encouraging others to become better versions of themselves, every day. We should also make it a priority to look for opportunities to highlight people’s efforts. When people go the extra mile to get the job done, recognizing their efforts reinforces their good work ethic.
The second piece of leadership advice I would give is to be your own person. This creates the diversity we need to see things from a different perspective. The military lifestyle is very fast paced and sometimes pushes us out of the present. Sometimes the present is the best place to be, and we miss out on it because we are rushing to the next best thing.
A couple years back, a technical sergeant read a poem at his going-away, and it really put things into perspective for me. I hope you find this poem as valuable as I do:
New York is three hours ahead of California, but that does not make California slow.
Someone graduated at the age of 22, but waited five years before securing a good job.
Someone became a CEO at 25 and died at 50 while another became CEO at 50 and lived to 90 years.
Someone is single while someone else got married.
Someone retired at 55 while someone else started their career at 70.
Everyone in this world works based on their time zone.
People around you might seem to be ahead of you, and some might seem to be behind you, but everyone is running their own race; in their own time.
Do not envy them and do not mock them. They are in their own time zone, and you are in yours.
Life is about waiting for the right time to act so relax, you’re not late and you’re not early.
You are very much on time.
I now take the time to enjoy the moment while preparing for the future. As a chief, a father and husband. My final advice to you is run your own race.