Friday, January 23, 2009

Commentary>>Words to live by

By Col. Donald Wilhite
314th Maintenance Group commander

Gen. Stephen Lorenz, Air Education and Training Command commander, visited the 314th Airlift Wing back in late September 2008. He held a commander's call in the base theater. Do you remember what he said? I don't remember all of it, but I do remember one point he emphasized: Never give up.

He cited Winston Churchill, prime minister of the United Kingdom during World War II.

Mr. Churchill experienced failure many times in his life. He ran for parliament and lost, but was elected two years later. When he was the British equivalent of our secretary of the Navy, he planned the Gallipoli campaign, which was a failure, and he was fired. During the early 1930s, he railed against Nazi tyranny, but nobody listened. Then in 1940, he became the prime minister and led the U.K. in the war against Adolph Hitler. After the defeat of Germany but before the war against Japan ended, the British held an election and voted him and his party out of office. Five years later, in 1950, he became prime minister for a second time. Now that's perseverance and grit.

I have a poster in my office that states the same message in a different way: "The race is not always to the swift, but to those who keep on running."

Don't worry about winning, being first or finishing at the top. Sometimes you might be a distinguished graduate, and sometimes you might be in the middle of the pack. In either case, don't pull up or give up. Run the race, and keep on running. Commit yourself, work hard, do well.

Know your strengths and weaknesses. Know what you're good at and what you're not. Focus on your God-given talents, what you naturally enjoy. Then go out and do it.

You won't accomplish your goals overnight. Take life one step at a time. Look ahead. Make plans. Then go for it.

There's a truism in life -- the person who finishes at the bottom of his class is exactly the same as the person who finishes at the top: a graduate. It really doesn't matter if you finish last, first or in the pack. But you must finish, then continue. Build on your character, experiences and accomplishments, and go onward and upward.

Winston Churchill never gave up. Neither should you. Long may you run.


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