Survey Says…We have a double standard
OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- You may not know it, but in 2013 our Osan community responded to the Community Assessment Survey and the Support and Resiliency Inventory for Members. Both surveys compiled the respondents' assessments of community support and comprehensive fitness (pillars of wellness) here at Osan. Overall, the surveys depict areas that leaders (of all ranks) and support agencies can focus on to improve quality of life for our community; however, the major disparity is not something our leaders or agencies can fix for us...it's something we have to fix ourselves. We have a double standard: 84 percent of respondents feel "genuine concern for the need to reach out/assist others" while only 36 percent of respondents believe they can "depend on support from neighbors or others."
Why do so few people believe they can reach out for help from neighbors, when so many self-assess that they accept the social responsibility to help others in need? More than accept, we have said we have a genuine concern to help others in need, but we aren't actually helping. What are we missing? Where is the disconnect? Perhaps we believe we would help others, and even believe we make ourselves available to others, when in all reality we mistakenly adopt the mindset that they know they can come to us. (Arguably the same way they know they are doing well on the job, so we do not say anything about that; rather, we only mention it when they fall below expectations.)
What do others know about you...as their leader, neighbor, co-worker, peer, brother or sister in arms? Sure, they know the elevator talk...your general career path, perhaps even goals, time in service, certainly your follow on assignment or lack thereof. Perhaps they even know the easy stuff...if you are married or single, have children and or pets. Possibly they even know the funny story about how you took the wrong train home from Seoul one night, or what your TI was like in basic training. But let's face it, that is all peripheral information; not unimportant, but not enough.
When is the last time you reached out for help? Not assistance with a tasker or information from the subject matter expert, but actual help with a personal challenge, ethical dilemma or even financial needs. Rather than when did you last reach out, to whom did you last reach out? The when and what matter, but the who matters more. Why did you reach out to that person? What helped you trust that you would be helped without judgment or embarrassment? We do not reach out, really reach out, to people we do not know; rather, we find someone who "gets it" and really cares.
How do we know when someone "gets it" and cares? We know because of what they say and what they do...day in and day out. Check yourself...Do your Airmen know you have struggled in your marriage too? Have you shared how you overcame financial difficulty? What about how you developed self-discipline with personal fitness after a failure or near failure? What about your struggles balancing parenthood and Airmanship? Did you share your deployment experiences that have shaped you? Who have you told about what helped you become confident in social situations?
Don't get me wrong, it's terrific that we believe we have a social responsibility to help others, but what have we done about it? A belief is powerful, but only if it moves us to act.
I challenge you to put yourself out there. Tell your story. The next time you ask, "How are you?" hold the other person's gaze and wait for a real response. Let others know you. Allow us to learn from your challenges, victories and failures. Think about how many people you can actually help here at Osan if instead of believing you would help anyone, you actually help someone.