How do you measure morale?

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. James Sanders
  • 8th Fighter Wing command chief
Morale -what is morale? Many of us in the Air Force use the word morale to talk about "unit morale." Have you ever tried to accurately define the word? Do you know how to measure morale? My interpretation of morale is "self-esteem in action."

Airmen are always asking me what I do to keep myself motivated every day. They see me as someone who consistently comes across as happy to be here and since this is my fifth remote, they wonder how I do it. My answer is simple, "I own my own morale." No one can bring me down if I refuse to be brought down.

Each day I wake up knowing I'm part of something bigger than myself. I'm part of a unique organization built on tradition with great Americans on the most noble of advance the cause of freedom. How can one not be motivated? Remember, you are the only one who gets to adjust your morale switch--first thing every morning I set mine on HIGH. Where do you set yours?

There is no doubt of the hardships an unaccompanied tour may bring. We talked about what it's like to be geographically removed from day-to-day participation in the lives of your loved ones. We also agreed e-mail, web cameras, and telephone calls may help, but they will never remove the sting of separation. Because the mission at the Wolf Pack is so demanding and fast moving, folks are working long hours and weekends to make that mission happen. There are also frustrations with policies that come down from leadership that are not always favorable or liked.  And, let's throw in, being at Kunsan may not be the assignment you wanted and is the last place on Earth you would volunteer to go...these are just a few things that may be causing that so called "bad morale." However, even with all one but YOU gets to decide how you're going to feel about those things. No one can force you to be negative about anything. So, don't do it. Refuse to be negative! Do not allow the actions of others to bring you down or cause you to lose the desire to be here. Being a part of the Air Force and the Wolf Pack means you are part of a professional organization that takes pride and dedication in what they do every day.

As a command chief, many see my roles as mentoring and leading. I have been fortunate this year to learn a great deal myself. I have learned that the Wolf Pack is the sum of all our actions. Each and every member have acted together to further enhance, develop, motivate and strive for excellence in the Wolf Pack. We are all destined to make choices and those choices do largely control our actions. I am most fortunate and grateful that the Wolf Pack is filled with so many motivated people who make positive choices, which ultimately leads to many meaningful and productive actions.

Here's my challenge to everyone in the Wolf Pack no matter what rank you are. The number of stripes on your sleeves or what is worn on your shoulders may indicate responsibility and authority, but they don't indicate opportunity. Every member of the Wolf Pack has the opportunity to make an impact. So, the question is what will you do with yours? As the Wolf Chief, I've seized my opportunity to make an impact by helping the Wolf build a collaborative work environment and by articulating to all of our members the "whys?" or "how come?" of Wolf's policies and decisions. How will you seize yours?

So back to the original question, "How do I consistently come across as being happy?" First and foremost I surround myself with positive individuals. I find time, no matter how busy my schedule is, for myself and things I enjoy to do. For those who know me really well, I love to golf and I play every chance I get...that is my so called sanctuary. Each one of us has something that brings a good feeling inside us and we need to find that balance of work and pleasure. This is my secret to always looking find what that is for you and you'll find that your personal life, morale and what you bring to the Wolf Pack will be enhanced.