A Living Room, a Lamp, and a Lesson Learned

Growing up, my brothers and I were no strangers to getting into mischief. In fact like most closely spaced sets of brothers, we were pretty much Subject Matter Experts in prepubescent hijinks.

From Evel Knievel bicycle jumps (banana seat? Yes, please!), to stunt falls from the barn roof (blame that on the summer trip to Universal Studios, Mom!) to ‘All Star Wrestling’ in the living room (top rope = top of the couch); we pretty much knew a million ways to have fun after we got bored of playing Pong on the Atari VCS (that’s pre 2600, BTW).

It was an awesome childhood … “totally” … “fer sure!”

This “totally” 80’s setting brings us to today’s tale of a living room, a lamp, and a lesson learned.

During a particularly rowdy round of throwing each other around the living room; most likely involving “the claw” (ala Baron von Raschke) or flying off the top of some piece of furniture like “Jumpin’ Jim” Brunzell; one of my mother’s lamps crashed to the floor … in pieces … it was bad. :-/

Like any quick thinking pre-tween would have done (at least the ones I hung around with), I found some glue. My brothers and I quickly ‘fixed’ the lamp, replaced it, tidied the living room (probably a dead giveaway now that I think about it) and went about our business. Mom came home and nobody noticed; all was good … for a while.

You can imagine what eventually transpired, so I’ll spare you most of the details, except this short conversation I had with my grandfather about it.

I told him it was an accident, and Mom shouldn’t be so mad because we didn’t mean to do it. What’s the big deal? It’s not like we were TRYING to break the lamp.

My grandfather looked at me, “I know you weren’t trying to break the lamp, there’s no doubt that you didn’t mean to do it, but did you do everything you could to keep the lamp from breaking? Did you go out of your way to NOT knock the lamp over?”

A few weeks ago, Secretary James published a memo outlining our Air Force Equal Opportunity and Non-Discrimination Policy. Make sure you check it out; it’s a quick read.

Once you do, I’d like you to consider this—Building a culture of dignity and respect is not as simple as not committing unlawful acts. Building the right culture is about doing everything we can to promote diversity, inclusion, and collaboration with our teammates. It’s about going out of our way to care for each other.

Not misbehaving is easy, but doing everything you can to ensure inclusion, teamwork, and collaborative solutions takes a little more effort … effort that pays us back with a better work environment, better teams and better mission accomplishment.

Because let’s face it, if we get this wrong, even if we “didn’t mean to,” the best glue job in the world isn’t gonna hide that broken lamp.