Vance Air Force Base

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost more than 300 games. Twenty-six times I have been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan


VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. — Oftentimes we focus on the negative aspects of our lives or a situation. If we redirect that energy, we can use it to become stronger and more resilient. Life without downfalls or shortcomings would not be life. How we handle those situations and what lessons we learn is what makes all the difference.

Several members of Team Vance took time to share some advice and stories where that advice helped them through a difficult time.

Tech. Sgt. William Hallett, 71st Flying Training Wing executive support

Advice: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You would be surprised at how many others have faced or are facing the same difficulties as you.

Experience: I can remember going through a difficult time and trying my hardest to keep it to myself. Doing this only made it worse.

Finally, a good wingman of mine notice and asked what was bothering me. I told her nothing and that I would be okay. She then opened up about a difficult time she had recently faced and how she got to a point where she decided to seek help about it.

She told me about the instant relief she felt from just sharing it with another person and suggested that I give it a try, so I did. I shared with her what difficulties I was facing and sure enough, the simple act of talking about it with another person lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. She was also able to offer some advice and let me know that things were not as bad as I thought.

Sometimes we forget we are human and require human interaction not only when things are going good, but especially when they are going bad. Don’t be afraid to open up and talk.

Rhonda Patton, 71st Flying Training Wing commander’s secretary

Advice: Even when going through a difficult situation, things do get better in time -- hold on to that belief.

Experience: My son is schizophrenic and went through awful situations in his past. He lived out of his car, even tried to kill himself once. Long story short, he is now on medication and is living a somewhat normal life, by the grace of God.

Lt. Col. John Masterson, 3rd Flying Training Squadron commander

Advice: Lean on someone you trust and can confide in. The situation you are facing might not be as daunting as you think, especially after it is given context from someone else’s perspective.

Experience: I recently was faced with the decision whether or not to take action on what one may consider unacceptable behavior. I struggled with the decision for several hours until I talked to a close colleague who in turn gave me some perspective.

The perspective the person gave me ended up being a complete blind spot on my part. If I had not sought advice, I think my decision would have been incorrect and would have further complicated the situation.

Winston Churchill once said, “If you are going through hell, keep going.” It rings true. Don’t wallow in your own misery -- talk to someone.

Lt. Col. David Payton, 71st Mission Support Group deputy commander

Advice: First try to completely understand the situation and why you are facing that situation.

Experience: Understanding the situation before I took action helped me understand how to deal with a toxic leader who could only see benefits for himself and not the team.

After talking with one of my mentors and having a talk with myself, I decided to turn anything negative, said or done, into a positive.

I asked the leader directly why he chose that decision. I was never disrespectful and reminded myself that I don’t have to be like that person nor do I have to engage in his toxic behavior. I had to remind myself I was not that type of person and I have my own thoughts on how leaders should lead.

On several occasions he asked me to implement toxic policy into our office and I politely declined stating the policy change would come better from the O-6 than his deputy.

I did this because I had become his scapegoat while his hands stayed clean of toxic policy and the office, as well as outside organizations, started treating me as if I was the toxic person. He had not only affected our office, but outside organizations did not want to work with us because of our leader.

When I started asking why and then suggesting he implement his own policies inside and outside our organization, I noticed he started questioning his own bad policy changes, leading to a decrease in his suggested changes.

As time went on, he became frustrated with himself because his attitude and behavior became evident to all, including his leadership. We countered his attitude with positivity and never allowed it to hinder our day-to-day processes.

I talked with each person in the office as well as the main outside organization leaders and explained our organization was not what our leader projected -- we are here to help and want to be team players.

In the end, I learned a valuable lesson — always be myself and never allow someone to influence or demand me to be something I am not.

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