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64 The PCB Design Magazine • December 2014 could have chosen NOT to wave to anyone. He was, after all, a world record-setting pilot and he had important things to do and to concen- trate on, not the least of which was flying an airplane. The Spirit of St. Louis was not the easiest plane to fly; designed for distance, it featured a large fuel tank between the pilot and the engine, completely blocking Lindbergh's forward view. He had to swing the plane from side to side to look out the side windows, or peer through a small periscope in order to see what was in front of him. I don't think that any of us could blame him if he had chosen to focus his attention to the difficult task of flying instead of waving to people. And yet he did choose to wave on that day without realizing what that simple act could accomplish. He was a role model, whether he knew it or not. When I was in high school, I worked at a mom and pop hamburger restaurant, for a man named John. Even though he could be gruff at times, John would let us do our homework when the restaurant was slow and made sure that we always had something to eat. John set a terrific example by being there every day, work- ing steadily, and showing an interest in the life and well-being of all the teenagers who worked for him. His management and care for us helped shape my own character as I grew. Likewise, during the years that I built my skills as a circuit board designer, many people helped shape my character. Some were impul- sively brilliant at laying out a board, while oth- ers were steady and consistent in their approach to work, dotting every "i" and crossing every "t." But they were all patient with me, answer- ing my questions, showing me the ropes, and setting good examples for me to follow. So today when I am confronted with a prob- lem or situation that is difficult to get through, I often reflect on what I learned from these men- tors. Their examples have helped me numerous times to work through a tough situation that requires either wise management or intricate technical skills. I am very fortunate to have all of these different examples to fall back on. These mentors became my role models. We will never know how much our actions affect other people, but the fact is that people are impacted all the time by what we do and say. For instance, consider the story of George Bailey in the movie "It's a Wonderful Life." George lived his life working himself to death for some hoped-for future momentous event, all the while missing the minor miracles that happened around him every day. He refused to recognize how his contributions had a positive impact in the life of others until the latter part of the movie when he is forced to see what life without him would be like. Not only were the people that he knew and loved in bad shape due to his absence, but his entire town was radically different for the worse. And it was all because he hadn't been there as a positive influence. Now true, that was just a movie. But con- trast that make-believe story with the real-life example of Charles Barkley. He sparked public outrage several years ago when he said, "I am not a role model." Here's the key: We are all role models. We just have to decide if we are going to be a good role model or a bad one. I recently read a blog written by Air Force Col. Donald Grannan, 88 th Communication Group Commander, describing how a young lady not in his command, a staff sergeant who was ascending rapidly in her Air Force career, abruptly resigned from the service. The reason for her departure? She felt that the Air Force had clearly demonstrated that it didn't want her. How could someone with such a bright future in front of her end up with this negative im- pression of the Air Force? It wasn't a matter of poor performance on her part or a lack of moti- vation. She had received top marks on all of her performance reports, taken part in two deploy- ments, and was considered a "superstar" among her peers. The colonel found instead that the problem lay with her leadership team. When she had a conflict with a senior co-worker (who was in the wrong), none of her leaders offered to in- tervene, counsel, or help in any way. When she was promoted to staff sergeant the first time she was eligible, it took days before anyone compli- mented her on this accomplishment, and was never recognized by her commander. When she became a distinguished graduate from Airman Leadership School, a highlight in her career, no tim's takeways LIkE IT OR NOT, YOU'RE A ROLE MODEL continues

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