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Commentary - Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Synergize

Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. -- Editor's Note: This is the sixth story in a seven-part series on the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. A class on these habits is offered periodically by the Airman and Family Readiness Center.

What is synergism? The United States Air Force is a perfect example. Synergism is the interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements or contributions. This concept of creative cooperation roots habit six in the series, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, a seminar offered by the Airman and Family Readiness Center.

To approach a circumstance and think, it's either your way or my way, or a compromise; is wrong. We need to have the mindset that together, we can create a better way, a higher way. This is the start of creating synergy.

"People who are truly effective have the humility and reverence to recognize their own perceptual limitations and appreciate the rich resources available through interaction with the hearts and minds of other human beings," as outlined by the series author, Stephen R. Covey. 

Enlisting in the Air Force was a big decision for me at 18, I could not even fathom the changes I would undergo and be a part of. Airmen come from all different places, ethnicities, backgrounds and share many different beliefs. Collectively these variables give our Air Force such a great advantage for creative cooperation.

When I got to my technical school I was told that soon my career field would be combining with another similar career field and this training would eventually be connected, but that I would be part of a merger at my first assignment. I didn't know what to think or how to feel! When I got to my first assignment the two units weren't in the process of merging yet so I got used to how things ran in my office and I liked being part of such a big squadron. It made sense for the two units to merge, but reaching that goal presented many obstacles, some unforeseen. When we started combining with the other unit there were good days and there were bad days. When the bad days came around, we had to remind ourselves and each other that it's a constant learning process. We had to be willing to explore new possibilities that could benefit everyone involved. We couldn't be threatened by differences of opinions or perspectives, we needed to embrace the differences and build from them. The merger wasn't always easy, but using creative cooperation and taking baby steps helped us reach our goal.

As members of the Air Force, every day we are faced with challenges and if we can exercise synergy we will overcome these challenges. Instead of finding a temporary solution, or a solution that works best for one party, we need to work together to create a better way, a higher way. This is the habit of synergy, the concept that the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts.

Martin Luther King Jr., once said "We may have all come on different ships, but we are in the same boat now."

I challenge you to keep this idea in mind and to work this concept of cooperation into your professional and personal lives. See what great innovations and solutions you can be a part of. For more information on this habit, or the seminar, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, please contact the Airman and Family Readiness Center at (720) 847-6681.
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