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Professionalism: It’s a state of mind

Chief Master Sgt. Harley Delp, 111th Communications Flight, speaks with Brig. Gen. Michael Taheri, Air National Guard Readiness Center commander, Joint Base Andrews, Md., while Capt. Timothy McManus, of the 111th Comptroller Flight, looks on during Taheri’s visit to Horsham Air Guard Station, Pa. March 12, 2016. Delp advocates for all Air National Guardsmen to continue to grow as professionals in their military careers. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond)

Chief Master Sgt. Harley Delp, 111th Communications Flight, speaks with Brig. Gen. Michael Taheri, Air National Guard Readiness Center commander, Joint Base Andrews, Md., while Capt. Timothy McManus, of the 111th Comptroller Flight, looks on during Taheri’s visit to Horsham Air Guard Station, Pa. March 12, 2016. Delp advocates for all Air National Guardsmen to continue to grow as professionals in their military careers. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond)

HORSHAM AIR GUARD STATION, Pa. -- Close your eyes for a moment and imagine a world that is blatantly unprofessional: Businessmen and women dress like vagrants, hurling vulgarities at one another. Tradesmen show up hours late to do work at your home, then watch your television while munching on snacks from your refrigerator. Clergy members tell you to, "Go tell someone who cares." when you mention that you're going through a difficult time. Politicians tell you lies - ask for you to vote for them -- and then stuff their pockets full of money.

OK, maybe you didn't need to imagine too hard for that last one.

Anyway, I hope you get the idea. A world devoid of professionalism would be horrible, right?

But professionalism is so much more than just dressing sharply, speaking well, being on time and acting polite; it should be a main motivator for those of us in the military. And there are a few methods and programs being instituted by the Air National Guard to help its members reach their goals as professionals, both full-time and drill-status Guardsmen.

I recently attended an Air Force training seminar that included topics about enhancing management and leadership skills. It was impressive to see the Air National Guard incorporating these topics into the training in a totally interesting and completely relevant way.  Purposeful and intentional instruction about leadership, core values and professionalism - what a concept! I think I like this new Air National Guard now more than ever.

And many of these instructions can found online and incorporated into your daily life, a way to continually improve yourself as a lifelong learner.

Not long ago, I was made aware of a new online resource that the Air Force instituted last year. In March 2015, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Mark Welsh officially activated and assigned the Profession of Arms Center of Excellence (PACE) program to the Air Education and Training Command. Its sole purpose is to equip Airmen with the character and core values required to be successful in the Air Force.  The PACE website has a number of excellent resources that I urge you to utilize in your commander's calls, workload meetings or other group gatherings. According to an article on the Air Force official website, "PACE helps Airmen embody professional proficiency and offers them helpful tools to better prepare fellow Airmen for the future.  It's a place where Airmen can re-engage with Air Force heritage and internalize the core values."

Also, there skillfully-created videos that help fuel professionalism through inspiration. Try any of the Heritage Today Video Series, or maybe the Art of Leading Oneself videos. They're just a couple of minutes long, are very well produced, and aren't corny, hokey or dull. As we look toward the future, it is particularly important that Airmen have a good sense of their remarkable Air Force heritage and the feeling of belonging to a great community of professionals. This is how we can be most productive, and how we can ensure that morale remains at high levels. The Air National Guard of today appears to be very cognizant about the value of instilling pride, trust and mutual respect.

The Guard offers many excellent training opportunities that provide instruction about enhancing professionalism: professional military education schools (PME), the PACE website, Air University, the AF Handbook 1 -The Airman Handbook, AF Credentialing Opportunities On-Line (AF-COOL) are a few. These programs can help members appreciate the foundational principles that make it great to belong to the Air National Guard, while preparing us for an ever-chaining force.

Remember, professional is not a label that you give yourself, it's a description you hope others will apply to you. By shaping yourself and your future through opportunities offered by the Air National Guard, you can earn this signature trait.

So, when you are buttoning that uniform in the morning and lacing up those boots - take a moment to reflect on the amazing legacy to which are an integral part and belong. Bring your best professional self each day by making it your intention to demonstrate it in all that you do. You are an American Airman - Wingman, Leader, Warrior. You're a professional in the best Air Force on earth!