Career Focus: 99% heart, 1% everything else

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Joseph Mulcahy
  • Team Kirtland Career Assistance Advisor
Another promotion cycle is quickly approaching for master sergeants across the Air Force. With test dates in December, many will begin to study the professional development guide. 

Some will study so much that they will split the bookbinding. Many will wonder how competitive their records will be when scrutinized by the promotion board. Promotion to the top two enlisted grades is difficult. 

Many factors are involved, such as performance, education, breadth of experience, job responsibility and leadership potential. If you think about it, these factors are not reserved for promotion to Senior or chief master sergeant alone. They affect everyone's career success--military or civilian. 

We are paid to perform. We can be popular or unpopular. We may do one hour or a hundred hours of volunteer service each year. However, it's our performance that gets the mission done and sets us apart from our peers. In the military, we use performance reports to document our efforts. These reports tell the story of our performance and are used to determine promotions and other important career decisions. If you want to be a successful performer, know your supervisor's expectations. Once you understand the expectations, work to exceed them. 

Education is another factor for career success. We're encouraged to pursue it because it enhances our personal and professional skills. It teaches us to communicate, think, analyze and acquire technical skills. In many cases, education can open doors to successful careers. Once you attain an education, it cannot be taken away. 

Performance and education are important factors for success, but so is breadth of experience. We may find it difficult to step out of our comfort zones. Once we have mastered our jobs we tend to maintain the status quo. Breadth of experience or changing jobs helps us learn new skills and grow. Exposure to jobs outside our normal duties also makes our careers more interesting and challenging. 

Success always comes with a price tag: more responsibility. We must be willing to accept additional responsibility. It will not be given to us if we're incompetent or unsuccessful in smaller tasks. When offered greater responsibility, accept it and prepare to grow. It's a statement from our bosses that we've earned it. 

Leading others, when done correctly, helps us and others succeed. Leaders can be found in every office and every rank. Good leaders inspire people to succeed. Everyone should study leadership with a great mentor. We should also expose ourselves to leadership opportunities. Volunteer to head a project, coach a team, change a process or take over a challenging job. 

The final key to success is to forge your own path. The factors above are critical, but we will never reach our full potential without a commitment to doing the best we can in everything we do. We can learn from others how to succeed, but we must do the work. Put your whole heart into doing a great job no matter what you do! Success in anything we do is 99 percent heart, one percent everything else! 

If you would like career assistance, or have questions regarding benefits and entitlements, give me a call at 846-6636 or e-mail me at
See you in the wings!