Commentary: Make each day your masterpiece

Col. Erik Nott
88th Surgical Operations Squadron

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Col. Erik Nott Commander 88th Surgical Operations Squadron

We all have opportunities to impact others

As a sports fan, I was born a few years too late to personally see the success and dominance of the UCLA men’s basketball team from 1963 to 1975. Over a 12-year period, the Bruins won 10 national championships, dominating the sport.

The UCLA teams of this era were full of talent, but their success also rested heavily on the ability of legendary coach John Wooden to lead and mold them, maximizing talent and potential while highlighting the importance of teamwork.

Many things have been written about Wooden, his philosophies, and pyramid of success and how to apply them not only to sports but business and life. Pat Williams wrote a book simply titled “Coach Wooden,” in which he discusses seven principles Wooden credited his father for instilling in him, part of a humble and religious upbringing in rural Indiana.

One of my favorite Wooden quotes from this book: “You’ve not lived a perfect day until you’ve done something for somebody who cannot repay you.”

The two principles I’d like to highlight from the book are “make each day your masterpiece” and “help others.” Along with the other five, they are intimately intertwined in not only our personal success but helping those around us succeed as well.

Within the Air Force structure, most of us do not have “stand-alone” jobs. Our successes and failures depend on each other as most of our jobs fall under the “support” umbrella. Each of us has a niche and we support the mission by helping each other, each component adding to its overall success.

Every day presents opportunities to maximize your impact on the lives of those around you. These opportunities don’t just rest on commanders and leaders, but every individual. Quite often, you may be sought out directly for help because of your subject knowledge and expertise.

As an orthopedic surgeon, I do the best I can to help keep other active-duty members, retirees, and their families healthy and active with the knowledge and skills I have acquired. This supports both the individual and Air Force mission. The success does not rest on my efforts alone.

For my clinic to run successfully, I have a lot of great support staff who handle the operational details, answering questions, dealing with schedules and conflicts, and working with logistics and finances to ensure the proper equipment is ready and available for patient care. The list goes on and on for those who support the clinics, both directly and indirectly, and create the success for each single patient visit.

When I am bolstered by the best efforts of those around me “making each day a masterpiece,” every patient benefits from this giant team.

Opportunities also exist to provide random acts of kindness. Our base is full of large buildings, and the chance to help guide someone through the labyrinth of hallways or cubicles to get to the right area is one such example. Something as simple as taking that extra step to walk with an individual and get them to their destination makes a difference.

Technology has assisted us with maps, diagrams, weblinks, help menus, SharePoint pages full of instructions and access to almost any information. Never forget: Simple human touch and assistance can have a tremendous effect on that person who is “lost” and seeking help and trump all the available technology.

Each day is a precious resource as people seek you out for your knowledge. Graciously provide them with your help and expertise. Ultimately, it will come back to help you.

Look for those opportunities. Squeeze the life out of each day. Make it your masterpiece.

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