The Six Values

  • Published
  • By Col. Chad Clifton
  • 9th Maintenance Group commander
A value is a belief, a mission, or a philosophy that is meaningful. Whether we are consciously aware of them or not, every individual has a core set of personal values. Values can range from the commonplace, such as the belief in hard work and punctuality, to the more psychological, such as self-reliance, concern for others, and harmony of purpose. And just as individuals subscribe to values, so do organizations and institutions--organizations such as the United States Air Force.

I'd like to share with all of you--Team Beale, a short personal story about my father, Mel Clifton. It has played a significant role in my life as a young boy growing up, as an Air Force officer, and my life in general as a man--a story that I'll call, "The Six Values."

Before he retired, my dad was an electrical contractor who owned and operated his own business for 27 years. On his way to work one morning, he was listening to the radio and became intrigued by what a guest was describing as values in one's life and how they might apply to each of us as individuals. He quickly pulled the car over and began to write down each of the values. As he pondered on each of their unique definitions, he became so struck by their influence that he had a plaque made that listed what he entitled; "Six Values for the Successful Man." What's interesting to note is that as I list them, I believe you'll find that Mother Air Force (unbeknownst to my dad at the time) has adopted them as well, and I'd like to think that they apply to us all as men and women who serve our country.

The first value is Integrity--any questions? Didn't think so ... everyone should possess it. The second value is Awareness. How many times have you heard someone say "keep your SA high" or simply write FYSA in an e-mail? Situational awareness is critical to all aspects of our Air Force way of life, irrespective of what your AFSC is. The third value is Courtesy. Whether it's courtesy to our superiors, peers, or subordinates, courtesy is a value that will always serve you well when interacting with others. The fourth value is Skepticism. You can't always believe everything you see or hear. Sometimes skepticism can be a powerful method of evaluating the truth and making decisions based on evidence and sound reasoning. The fifth value is Learning. To quote John F. Kennedy: "Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other." The sixth and final value is Commitment. I think we'd all agree that there is little worth having that is easy. Whatever that objective is, it's going to take commitment in order to achieve it.

When we examine the lives of famous people or those that have gone on to become prominent leaders, we often see how personal values guided them, propelling them to the top of their fields. For example, former COMACC, General Hal M. Hornburg wrote a book on it entitled "What I Believe." Whatever one's values, when we take them to heart and implement them in the smallest details of our lives, great accomplishment and success are sure to follow.

Incidentally, that plaque that I spoke of earlier hung on my dad's office wall just above the light switch so that it was the first thing he'd see as he started his day. A duplicate, which he passed on to me, has hung in the same place on my office walls since I was a second lieutenant.