Apply OODA Loop before making commitments

  • Published
  • By Col. Lorn Heyne
  • 65th Medical Group commander
How many times have you wanted to quit something you were doing? As children, we were often tired, bored or just done with an event but Mom or Dad would not let us stop. I know I did this with my kids. I told them that if they chose to compete for a place on a sports team or take on a project, that they must see it through to completion. Of course I heard their moans and groans, but today my children take the time to make a thoughtful decision prior to making a commitment.

Before joining the Air Force, I had four different jobs over a two year period. When I signed my contract to enter active duty, I made a conscious decision that it was a commitment; I would be all-in for four years. Obviously my commitment turned out to be much more than just four years, but the point is I remain committed to this day.

Many people automatically associate commitment with marriage. Although commitment is part of marriage, the art of commitment can be applied to every endeavor we take on; but it takes work. Think of how many times you've wanted to lose weight, enroll in a class or even take on a project: these endeavors require a lengthy commitment.

So before you make the big decision to commit to something, apply an Air Force-favorite: John Boyd's OODA Loop, a decision-making process.

Observe what others are doing. Find out the circumstances surrounding the item and the ramifications if you do this. Come to terms with what it will take to get to the finish line. Think about the goal and how you will benefit by making the pending commitment.

Orient yourself by completing an analysis. In other words, ask yourself, 'what's it going to take for me to see this through?' What information or experience can you draw from? Your analysis doesn't have to be complicated, but as simple as giving yourself time to carefully think about the goal. Committing to a moving target can be difficult, so set parameters for yourself by understanding what the outcome will be, defining what you want, how you will arrive at the goal and how you will find the time required to reach the goal.

Decide:  This means implicit guidance and control. Ask yourself, 'do I have what it takes and am I committed to seeing this through?' Focus on what is important to you as this will help motivate you to follow through. The goal is to make the right decision at the right time. This also helps to prevent one from becoming over-committed.

Action is where the rubber meets the road. Action means following through to completion and holding yourself accountable, as personal drive may not always be enough. Personal drive sometimes fails, and a great example is the 'New Year's Resolution Effect,' when after a week or two, enthusiasm for a new behavior wanes. Helpful methods for remaining committed to a task include setting goals, finding an accountability partner or joining a group where there exists a 'we're in this together' sentiment.

It's a safe venture to say all Airmen are committed to serving our country. But are all Airmen committed to serving themselves and those around us? The underlying theme to our Air Force core values is commitment. Airmen are committed to having the utmost integrity, to serving selflessly and excellence in all tasks.

I've come to better understand commitment through 36 years of Air Force service and 40 years of marriage. While being committed to Air Force service or a relationship doesn't always make things easier, commitment does help you feel better about yourself and others affected by your commitment, feel better about you. Make the decision to fully commit before you step into a new task or path in life; you'll be better for it.