The building blocks of teamwork

  • Published
  • By Maj. Dustin Born
  • 507th Civil Engineer Squadron commander

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --  In civil engineering we are a small knit community and like any family, it takes work to make us functional. I believe the focus of our work is in honesty, trust and support. These building blocks are what bring us together and help us thrive. 

When I refer to honesty, I don't just mean being honest or telling the truth; although those are very important things and are the basis of one of our core values, ‘integrity first.’ I’m referring to being honest with each other. Honesty means having open conversations. It means giving expectations and holding each other accountable for those expectations. I have to be honest with my expectations of you and how well I expect things to be accomplished. We need to set standards together, which requires you to be honest with me about your capabilities.

I am going to ask for things at the edge of your capabilities. I will ask you to push yourself and do things that will expand your horizons. There will be times that I will ask you to step out of your comfort zone, but I’ll do it in a way that will make you, our unit and the Air Force better. However, the relationship where we make each other better and push each other to new levels does not come without work. Once we’ve established this rapport, we’ll start to build that next important step of trust.

You may have heard the saying that trust is not something that is given, it is earned. Trust is one of the unique things in this world that, once it's lost, it is almost impossible to recover. It allows us to work better as a unit and as a family. Trust gives us the confidence to step outside our comfort zones and do things that make us better.

Trust in each other to uphold standards and be excellent in all we do is the key building block of this foundation. However, it is important to remember; trust is not the endeavor, nor the reward. The endeavor is the building of trust and the reward is what we are able to achieve by working together as a team and a family. Trust in self is a great thing, but the events that surround it make us great and give us the ability to support each other better. Because the final building block of this family is support and, in some ways, it becomes the most important.


As a family we help each other and we support each other. Having honest communication and building trust leads us to the point where we’re willing to do almost anything for each other. Support and teamwork is what will drive us to accomplish things we never thought we could before. Without support, a team is just a group of people, but with it the team becomes a family. Support drives our ‘service before self.’


Often we associate the service in ‘service before self’ to mean putting the Air Force before ourselves, but I challenge you to look at service as more than just a branch of the military. It’s also the group of people who are standing next to you today. Your ‘service before self’ does not have to be an organization without a face. It can be the group of people who made the same commitment as you and to the service of our country. The service in ‘service before self’ is both a noun and a verb and no one gets anywhere without having each other to make it through.

So this is what I charge you with today: Have the integrity to be honest and communicate with each other, trust each other to make our team better so we can be excellent in all we do and provide service to our comrades and support them.

To the men and women of the 507th Air Refueling Wing, I would like to thank you for inviting me into your family. As we build this honesty, trust and support, my goal is to bring us closer together and to make us a stronger team and family. I'm so proud to be a part of it.