Mentoring: not just for senior officers, chiefs

  • Published
  • By Col. Darrell G. Young
  • 512th OG commander
A number of years ago, I found myself in the wing commander's office giving him the latest updates on a project he had given me. Once I completed my report, he suddenly asked me what my career aspirations were and what I thought about some of the recent trends in the Reserve command. I told him what I wanted to do and then launched into an "expert" analysis of recent events. 

As I babbled along, it suddenly struck me that I was taking up the very valuable time of a very busy general officer. Embarrassed, I quickly brought my babblings to a close by saying, "Excuse me sir, I'm sure you have better things to do, so I will get out of your hair." He smiled and said something I will never forget. 

"Spending time with younger folks, discussing their career goals is one of my most important jobs. You are the future and helping you get ready is critical to the continued success of my Air Force." 

Since that day, I have tried my best to adopt his philosophy and make mentoring one of my top priorities. We all have very busy schedules, and it's easy to let mentoring fall by the wayside. We can't let that happen. Mentoring is also not just something for generals and colonels. 

If you are a young staff sergeant, you should be mentoring young Airmen. If you are a junior major, you should be helping lieutenants and captains. Don't make the mistake of thinking you have to become a chief or a senior commander before you can make a difference in someone's career. 

If you take the time and dedicate yourself to helping others get prepared to take on bigger responsibilities, you will be doing something that is critical to the future of the greatest Air Force in the world. The extra time you take may one day mean the difference in getting the right person in the right spot who will be able to win the fight.