School is never really out
By Lt. Col. Kirk Edens, 14th Medical Support Squadron commander
/ Published November 30, 2007
COLUMBUS AFB, Miss. --
What ever happened to the buggy whip maker, the Yugo automobile maker and the dodo bird? What did they all have in common?
The buggy whip maker did not see the automobile as ever replacing the horse. He thought that new technology would never catch on and that he would keep making buggy whips forever. That was the only thing he knew, and he was good at it. However the automobile did catch on, and the need for buggy whips declined, as well as the need for buggy whip makers.
The Yugo maker thought that he could capture part of the American automobile market with his inexpensive car, but he failed to realize that even though it was inexpensive, people bought cars that worked! No one wanted to buy inexpensive cars that did not work except maybe to use them as planters in their front yards. As there was no need for an inexpensive car that did not work, demand declined, and the Yugo maker is no more.
The dodo bird had pretty feathers yet could not fly. Perhaps flying would mess up the feathers. When humans discovered the dodo, they killed the birds and used the feathers in head dresses. The bird was real easy to kill, since it was three feet tall, could not fly and lived on an island with no place to run. Despite the threat, it did not learn to fly, and its feathers remained pretty. Eventually, no more dodo bird.
All three are examples of failing to adapt to their environment to survive. We live in a competitive, ever changing world, and you have to prepare yourself to adapt to it through continuous education, improving your skills, learning new ones and keeping your mind fresh and trained for taking on new challenges. Darwin's theory was not "the strong survive" as I have heard it referred to but "those who adapt, survive.
The Air Force initially helps us along in this endeavor. Enlisted personnel go through basic training, technical training, first duty location with Career Development Courses and tests to earn your 7-level. Then what?
Officer's go through college, commissioning source training, technical training, and a myriad of upgrades until finally being declared "Mission ready." Then what?
Like most people, like most high school seniors on graduation night, like Alice Cooper's song "School's Ou,t" you start to think you are finally done, done forever, "no more teachers, no more books...," it's all down hill from here.
However, school is never done; you can never really be done. Whether your next step is to go for that next higher degree, joining a professional organization and learning more about that profession, taking a Microsoft Access class or even joining Toastmasters to improve your public speaking, you need to stay "in school." This type of behavior, constantly seeking new things to learn, will help train yourself and your mind to take on challenges and to apply new skills. As the world, your military job, your career track changes and as new technology is developed and introduced, you will be prepared mentally and physically to take on these challenges, you will be prepared to apply new skills and technology to adapt, succeed, and survive. School is never really out, unless of course you are a dodo.