Surviving the flood
By Col. Ken Stefanek, 39th Air Base Wing vice commander
/ Published January 18, 2007
INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- There's a story of a man who died tragically during a flood. As the flood waters rose around his house, some folks passed him on a raft and offered to take the man with them. Believing his house would survive the flood, the man refused their offer for help. A few hours passed and the waters rose even higher when some more people passed in a motor boat and again offered to take the man to safety ... once again he refused their help. The waters continued to rise, forcing the man onto the roof of his house. Luckily a helicopter spotted the man and offered to rescue him. Despite the fact that the helicopter crew told the man that the flood waters would continue to rise, the man remained confident his house would survive and refused to accept help. The flood waters continued to rise as expected and the man drowned.
The highest of Maslow's hierarchy of needs is the need for self-actualization. At the risk of delving into a deep intellectual exercise, this need describes the desire to reach our full potential as a person and gets into those things that give our lives meaning. These things vary from person to person and are as different as a raft, a motor boat, and a helicopter. Examples include family or community activities, academic pursuit, spiritual beliefs, and for some I'm sure, even Notre Dame football. The common theme here is that whatever vehicle adds meaning to your life, you have to actively use the vehicle to remove yourself from the flood waters that constitute the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
You may ask yourself why any of this matters here at Incirlik ... simply stated, our leaders recognize that when people pursue activities that give them meaning, they are better prepared when it comes time to accomplish the mission. It is no secret we invest heavily in spiritual, academic, family and community programs. We do this because we hope we'll get a return on the investment in terms of job performance. The truth is no matter how much we spend on these programs, the payoff for all of us occurs when we participate in them.
It's an understatement to say the past few months have been extremely busy -- you could easily compare the pace of life here to a river flooding its banks. I hope you all recognize the things that give you meaning and actively pursue them. Like the man in the story, if you fail to use your raft, motor boat, or helicopter, you could easily be consumed by the flood waters that are life at Incirlik.