Powerful words: Quotes, cliches, leadership phrases

Commentary by Capt. Jon Arceta
5th Bomb Wing

2/3/2012 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D.  -- Lead by example, Service before self, Learn from your mistakes, Attention to detail and do everything by the book. We've all heard and seen these words before, and some of us are even guilty of using them from time to time.

There's probably a poster you walk by everyday in your work center with a big "ATTITUDE" or "OPTIMISM" written all over it. It has been there so long that the meaning behind the words has faded and is ignored. Leadership clichés and slogans are not only part of the Air Force, but military culture in general.

So what's the point of all this? After all, they are just words right? If these words don't motivate you or me to become better, then let us step back and put things into perspective.

The truth of the matter is, these slogans, sayings, quotes, and clichés, did not appear overnight. They have been around for a long time. Leaders learned through tough experiences that these slogans, sayings, quotes and clichés were not only effective in motivating and moving their people, but necessary.

They all have truths to them; all have been battle-tested. Like any effective weapon, once proven to work, use it to its fullest potential yet never underestimate the power, yes I said power, of its' influence.

This knowledge, passed down from one leader to the next, is now with us, and yet we tend to misuse its' hidden power every day.

If we look at these slogans, sayings, quotes and clichés from the same angle every day, then yes, they are just words jumbled together to create a catchy little phrase.

It is time for us to go back to the basics! It is time to be reminded of their once motivational purpose - the way the great men and women who discovered them intended them to be understood and internalized.

To begin, ignore the stigma that may come with each slogan, saying, quote or cliché that you may hear, and embrace the powerful call-to-action message behind it. They should be our creed to live by. Let them intensify our desire to better our organization and ourselves. Be optimistic and project a great attitude.

The next time you're at the gym, go the extra mile. Grow where you're planted and strive for excellence in all you do. Every day is an opportunity and we must grab it by the horns and prove our self-worth.

All is for not if we do not act. It is not what is said that is important, but rather the action that is driven by the words. Keep this in mind next time you pass that poster in the hallway; read between the lines and internalize the author's intent.

Like the effective weapon, words can be powerful if used correctly and understood. We can utilize it to our advantage.

Let us understand the meaning and the power behind lead by example, service before self, learn from your mistakes, attention to detail and do everything by the book.

As we do, we will find that it is not the power of our weapons that makes Minot Air Force base so great. It is something greater - the power of our people.