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Are you carrying the FLAG?

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- With so many challenges and distractions hitting us everyday, it can sometimes be difficult to stay focused and maintain a healthy perspective. Many things can affect your outlook such as the daily grind or the "groundhog day," changes in processes and procedures, a different work environment or just knowing it's your turn to deploy. 

Occasionally when a person's way of thinking changes, so does their level of pride and professionalism. A simple tool you can use to help keep yourself on track is to "carry the FLAG." 

Carrying the FLAG is not hard to do, and unlike aircraft maintenance, you don't have technical instructions while you're doing it. 

First, be a good follower. Two of the most important qualities of followers are commitment and integrity. 

Commitment is giving your best effort to the mission everyday, and at the same time, working to achieve your personal goals. Integrity is nothing more than staying true to your values and beliefs despite the changes in your environment. Without commitment and integrity as your foundation, it's hard to know when you're slipping. 

Second is being a leader. Everyday, everyone in the Air Force has a chance to be a leader. Leaders are involved with people and show a sincere interest in their problems and welfare. 

As a leader, it's also important to be accountable for your actions and set an example for others to follow. Being a leader may sound hard, but if you look around, you will see people of all ranks leading throughout the wing. 

Third is being an Airman. From the chief of staff down to the newest recruit, we are all Airmen in the United States Air Force; we are one big family. 

As a family, we need to stay attuned to operations tempo. Deployment stresses may burden our family members. We should treat one another with respect and value the diversity that each Airman brings to the fight. It's all about being good wingmen for those around us -- Airmen take care of Airmen. 

Fourth is practicing good citizenship. As public servants, we need to use sound judgment while performing duties and carry out tasks within the scope of our authority. Good citizenship is about preserving public trust and confidence. It is also about pursuing justice and challenging injustice when the need arises. If you're a good neighbor and you make an effort to do the right thing, then you're practicing good citizenship. 

Remembering the acronym FLAG from time to time and reviewing what it stands for can help you keep things in perspective and stay focused. It is also useful as a checklist for identifying areas where others may be coming up short. Are you carrying the FLAG?