Lessons from Concessions: Leading through Service Published Nov. 7, 2012 By Tech. Sgt. Kodi Bailey 612th Air and Space Operations Center DAVIS-MONTHAN AFB, Ariz. -- Quite often, Airmen are asked to volunteer for numerous on and off-base organizations. In many cases, assistance is required to work at concessions to help raise money for worthy causes or to work in other community activities. The work is sometimes hard, the hours sometimes long, but there is a lesson from working in these concessions. The true spirit of volunteerism is giving of oneself to make a difference and gain experience at the same time. "Lessons from Concessions" is just one opportunity that Airmen can use to gain experience and strengthen their leadership and management skills by volunteering at a football concession stand. Today's Airmen need a new message, a message that explains how volunteerism can assist enlisted members with their professional growth. Air Force Instruction 36-2618, The Enlisted Force Structure also known as the "little brown book," specifically states, "Airmen are to join professional organizations and participate in organization and community events through volunteerism." Although the "little brown book" clearly states that Airmen should be involved in volunteerism...it does not say why. Airmen need to know there is a win/win in every volunteer activity. If you are an Airman you may ask yourself, "How can an Airman improve his professional growth by chanting peanuts, hotdogs, and ice cold drinks?" The true answer, you can't. An Airman can only grow if he knows himself and understands where he needs improvement. "Volunteerism can be purposeful and intentional in order to challenge oneself," said Chief Master Sgt. (retired) Clayton Moore. "Lessons from Concessions" is one example of volunteerism that will allow Airmen to hone their professional development skills in leadership, team building, communication, motivational theory and customer service. Think of it as a temporary work environment. For example: Lesson 1: Customer Service Airman First Class Jane desperately wants to improve her customer service because she is constantly criticized lacking in that area, so she volunteers at the concessions and challenges herself to engage 200 people with a smile and a friendly greeting. Her interactions with these 200 people strengthen her ability to positively engage a customer. Her interactions with her customers are greatly appreciated and she applies what she learns in her organization. Lesson 2: Leadership and Management Senior Airman Jones just pinned on staff sergeant and he has never supervised a group of Airmen, so his supervisor suggests that he becomes concessions booth manager. By doing this he quickly learns to supervise Airmen with different skills, motivation, and work ethics while achieving a common goal. He gains the experience he needs and Airmen see a non-commissioned officer leading a community volunteer effort. Lesson 3: Motivation Master Sgt. Garcia has incredible management skills, but somehow missed the professional military education lesson on how to encourage, motivate and inspire Airmen. The concessions provided him a perfect place to test his personality and to motivate other volunteers. The environment improves his confidence and encourages other Airmen to get and stay involved. These examples from "Lessons from Concessions" can be used to improve an Airman's professional growth. Your lessons may be in another form of volunteerism. There are many volunteer opportunities out there where you can lead through service. Find a community service project, be a mentor, or join a professional organization. Whatever it is, search for win/win volunteer activities. It is what Airmen are charged to do. Every day is a challenge to improve your aptitude, knowledge, behavior, and skills. People are still our greatest asset and every opportunity is an opportunity for professional growth. We truly can obtain "Lessons from Concessions."