Supporting Role

Last week, I moved back to the assembly line due to a delay on my current project. This has been a challenge as I have not worked on the line in about a year. The greatest challenge is adapting physically to the demands of the job. The transition from an eight hour day mostly behind a computer to ten-plus hours building cars has left me eagerly anticipating my next foam rolling session.

One of the jobs I have been assigned is a subassembly task. For two and a half hours, it is my responsibility to prepare parts and deliver them to the main assembly line. It is viewed by some as one of the easier jobs on the line. There are no risks of getting a defect for poor quality, but there is a risk of not having enough parts to the line at the right time. I have done this job twice, and both times I have been amazed by how much pressure there is to move as fast and efficiently as possible. I take every job I do seriously, and the same applies to this one. Not getting the parts to the line can stop production, which is costly. Associates have to work harder to get the line moving again. The longer the line is down, the greater the chances of all of us not being able to meet the target production number. When we don’t hit our goal, we have to stay later to make it up. Even this “easy” job is important.

I didn’t imagine going back to the line. For the last four years, I have been on projects preparing for the future. I always imagine how I can move up in a company, but now I am back where I began seven years ago. It is a humbling experience but also a reminder. I work at the pleasure of this company. I go where the management tells me to go. They are the ones that pay me, and so I do what is required.

I remember completing Infantry Basic Training at Fort Benning, Georgia. After eight weeks, my platoon was informed of our future. Even though we scored high on our entrance tests to the military, we were not the smart ones. We all went in with open infantry contracts, and now we were all going to be mortarmen.

When I found out I was going to be a mortarman, I was devastated. It is not what I imagined I would be doing as an infantry soldier. I wanted to be in the front, a light fighter. Instead, I would be in the back supporting them instead. I still had a chance. I could go to light unit. After four weeks of mortar training, I received my job assignment. I would be going to Fort Stewart, home to the Third Infantry Division (Mechanized). I would not be a light fighter, I was going to support a heavy Armor unit.

I wanted the glory and the action. I wanted to jump out of airplanes and helicopters. I wanted to ruck through the jungles and sleep on the ground. Instead I was sent to the back and given an armored vehicle that offered no protection. Even my platoon sergeant told me it would be safer to jump out and run if we ever saw the enemy.

It was not what I imagined when I joined the Army. I became disillusioned and did not appreciate the responsibility I had been given. I was to provide fire support for scouts and tankers that got into a jam and needed help. It was my duty to make sure the ones on the front lines got out okay. Of course I did my job, but I never really embraced it.

How you do anything is how you do everything. –Bedros Keuilian

As I work supplying parts to the line this Bedros Keuilian quote keep playing in my mind.  I have a clear picture of what my future looks like and the person I am working on becoming. Everything I do is significant. If I do something half-way in my personal life, I will not reap the full rewards that I desire. I don’t want to leave any stones unturned in my private life. Publicly and professionally, my dedication should be the same way. I have to be able to grind it out, work smart and efficiently, and all with a good attitude.

What the Army taught me, and what I am appreciating now, is that there is much honor in serving others. I don’t have to be in the front. I don’t even have to be doing the things I imagined. Being in a supporting role is important. Others are depending on you. Others are also watching you. They will notice when you have a poor attitude and are despondent. It will show in the quality of your work. They will also notice when you are positive and committed to doing a good job. They will see your hustle and maybe even admire your example, inspiring them to perform with equal intensity. As a servant to the mission and your team, you will be leading.

Regardless of the role in which you find yourself remember, “How you do anything is how you do everything.”

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