Find excellence, conquer obstacles through team resilience

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Kalen Mack, Medical Surgical Unit Section Chief
  • 88th Inpatient Operations Squadron

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. It’s reflected in toughness.

Life in the military, regardless of branch, is complicated. In some situations, trials in the service and life can seem insurmountable, yet we find ways to make it through time and again.

When looking back, we wonder, incredulously: “How on Earth did I make it through that?” The answer is rarely “I did it all by myself” or “that was too easy.”

More often, the answer sounds much like an athlete being interviewed after winning a game, where the individual names the people who helped them achieve when times were at their worst. That list of names is how we become resilient.

The Air Force requires us to be resilient in order to defend our nation and its interests from adversaries. It’s been ingrained in the officers, enlisted and civilian forces through resiliency days and training, and one thing is constant: Resilience is not achieved alone.

What do we gain when we exercise being “resilient together?” Personal strength increases from knowing someone has your back; driving force is added to your actions by giving you a team to fight for and rally around.

Early on in my career, I did not fully embrace this concept. In turn, stress built up at work and affected my performance, but I continued to ignore it. Then I deployed.

The rigors of being deployed are already stressful but getting to a low point made me realize I couldn’t do things on my own and I was not very resilient. It took being removed from my comfort zone to see what I could gain from being resilient as a team. I had found myself in a distant land with people I didn’t know – and no way to cope with that type of isolation.

Thankfully, I had a teammate who recognized that and reached out to me. Once this occurred, my job performance, team involvement and overall outlook improved, creating a chain reaction where unit cohesion grew exponentially.

My deployment experience is only one example of how making resilience a team concept can help a group conquer obstacles and become the best versions. To accomplish our goal of protecting the Constitution from enemies, both foreign and domestic, we must operate as a team.

This means genuinely being there for the people who make up that team and exercising resilience together. Great teams thrive and excel when they come together.