Photo by Airman 1st Class Krystal Jeffers

Editor’s Note: A version of this article originally appeared on LinkedIn.  

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Photo by Airman 1st Class Nesha Humes

I met my husband in Calculus class 13 years ago when we were both freshmen at the Air Force Academy. I was 18 and he was 19, and I remember him being as stoic as anything. He is the only person I dated in my life. We dated throughout our time at the Academy, were engaged our junior year, legally married the day after graduation so we could be stationed with each other, and then had our ceremony a few months later in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It was the party to be remembered forever.

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Photo by Lance Cpl. Juanenrique Owings

I will be honest, I would consider some of the enlisted I worked with in the past, my closest friends in the world. As a 22-year-old second lieutenant placed immediately in charge of 120 enlisted, I learned that if I carried my rank like a chip on my shoulder, my career as an officer would end quickly. I figured out rather quickly that if you take care of those who work for and with you, and respect them as the individual contributors that they are, the team dynamics are much more likely to be a success. This isn’t to say that rank does not have its place, because without the hierarchy, mass chaos would ensue when it came to orders being executed. But, people are more likely to listen to orders if they know that the leader has their best interest at heart. Ideally, this is how a civilian organization should be run as well. I remind myself of this daily.

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Photo by Sgt. Clifford Coy

Editor’s Note: A version of this article appeared on LinkedIn.

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Photo by Sgt. Brandon Banzhaf

Editor’s Note: A version of this article originally appeared on LinkedIn.  

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