Work hard, aim high

  • Published
  • By Maj. Launa Bellucci
  • 28th Force Support Squadron commander
Ever heard of any of these phrases: "Aim high," "You never know what you'll accomplish unless you try," "Shoot for the stars," or "The sky's the limit?"

Although each of those concepts are a part of my leadership perspective, the concept that often comes back to me is, "work hard and you'll be surprised by the results." I started my Air Force career as an airman basic, restarted it as a second lieutenant, and I am very pleasantly surprised by what my genuine hard work has unveiled.

I can remember being 13 years old and having a discussion with my mom (more like a crying session) about how upset I was that I didn't know what I wanted to do when I grew up. Not long after, I decided I wanted to be a secretary. This was because at the time, I was the fastest at typing in my class. This changed while I was in high school, when my sister enlisted in the Army. I then decided that I wanted to go in the Army, so I took the Armed Services Vocation Aptitude Battery, scoring a 92 in administration.

It wasn't too long afterward that the local Air Force recruiter called and asked to meet with me. The only thing I can remember from that meeting was, "the Air Force is the cream of the crop of the services." That 13-year old girl who wanted to be a secretary turned into a 19-year-old young woman that entered basic training as a personnel apprentice two days after graduation.

Three years later, I was an orderly room technician at Duke Field, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, a resource advisor, who was a staff sergeant, referred me to the "39-10 Early Release Program."

To qualify, I'd need to have two years toward a bachelor's degree, pass the physical fitness test, pass the Air Force officer qualifying test, and then I could apply to become an officer.

After learning about this program, I completed half my bachelor's degree in a year and a half, applied for the program, and was accepted to Reserve Officer Training Corps.

The phrase, "Work hard and you'll be surprised by the results," immediately came to mind. Two years later, I completed my degree magna cum laude, earned ROTC distinguished graduate, a regular commission, and received my choice of military career fields -- personnel.

Five years later, I was a captain and really wanted to be an Air Force ROTC instructor. Though my supervisor and peers advised me against leaving my career field, I applied because I believed in the value of mentoring future officers.

I did a bit of research and determined the timing would work in my favor because my major's board was scheduled a year after I would have a permanent change of station back into my core career field. I applied and was accepted for instructor duty at Norwich University, a private military university in Vermont.

While there, the Air Force accelerated the promotion boards and I worried if stepping out of my career field would affect my chances for promotion to major. It didn't. I was promoted to major and was competitively selected to be the Military Personnel Flight commander at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska.

While stationed at Elmendorf, the wing commander chose me to be his executive officer during my last year, and later got me an assignment to Air Mobility Command Personnel staff, and a push for Air Command and Staff College. I was on staff for a year, got selected for ACSC and then was competitively selected to command the 28th Force Support Squadron at Ellsworth.

So, that 13-year old girl who had a crying fit because she didn't know what she wanted to do when she grew up is now a squadron commander providing manpower, personnel, and services support to 16,000 active duty, dependent, Department of Defense civilian and retirees personnel. Not to mention she was selected for promotion to Lieutenant Colonel, and will pin on her new rank in March 2010, and was just selected to be the 28th Mission Support Group Deputy commander, following her command tour in June 2010. She still can't believe she's a commander, or that she will be a group deputy commander.

The point is, even if you don't know what you want to do when you grow up, work hard and you'll be surprised by the results. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Don't waste life in doubts and fears; spend yourself on the work before you, well assured that the right performance of this hour's duties will be the best preparation for the hours and ages that will follow it."

Therefore, go forth, work hard and be surprised.