Be the Pig

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Sean Sullivan
  • 267 Combat Communications Squadron
I am sure some of you read the title and are asking, "Is this guy crazy? Who wants to be a pig?"

The point I will attempt to make can pay big dividends on both your personal development and unit success. But, I need to start with a few questions. Do you understand the difference between contribution and commitment? Do you feel you contribute to your unit success or are you committed to its success? Are you a hen or a pig?

I will start with a story from my past, and use that story to give you an understanding of hens, pigs and your future.

It was the late 1980s and I was serving in the Marine Corps. I had just been selected to sniper school and was pumped. Upon arrival to the schoolhouse we were met by the command staff and our instructors. The commandant, First Sgt. Green, addressed us last. He looked like he belonged on a recruiting poster, or in a Hollywood movie; the epitome of a U.S. Marine. He addressed the class and gave a highly motivational speech but in closing he said, "Not a single egg-layer will make it through this course. Only the pigs will see it through to graduation."

At the time, we had no idea what it meant--no one did--but no one asked him either. Over the weeks that followed we lost almost half the class and every time someone dropped out Green would make a comment to the survivors about how another egg-layer bit the dust. I assumed it was a reference to the level of courage they possessed and he was suggesting they were chicken for failing.

Then one day a friend of mine dropped out and Green made his usual egg-layer comment. I knew the Marine was a decorated combat veteran and let the first sergeant know that. He looked at me and told me it had nothing to do with courage, it was about commitment.

"If you make it to graduation I will tell you all the difference between the chicken and the pig," said Green.

Somehow I mustered the will to get through to the end, and on graduation Green gathered us around and told us the story of hens and pigs.

"Who eats ham and eggs for breakfast?" he asked. We all raised our hands. "Then you can thank the hen for the egg, however, you should honor and respect the pig."

He continued, "The hen contributed to the meal by providing the egg, but the pig committed everything it had so you could have your ham. That pig gave the ultimate sacrifice. Now that is the same level of commitment you displayed getting through this school. When it comes to life, gentlemen, always be the pig!"

In life it is hard, if not impossible, to be the pig all the time. We sometimes slip into the hen mentality and just contribute a little here or there. I understand that and have found myself among the hens more than once, but when I do, I always remember that event in my life and put my snort on.

The key is to not make being a hen into a way of life. This goes for all facets of your life: work, family, fitness, social and spiritual areas, be a pig. Don't just be with your family, spend quality time with them. Try not to be a couch potato most of the year and spend the minimum time getting ready to just pass the fitness test. In fact, throw the minimums out!
Minimums do not exist for pigs. A pig will always give everything they have! At my most recent fitness test I was counting pushups for another Airman. I asked how many he was going for and he boldly told me 100. As I counted them out it became apparent he would not get close to 100, but he gave everything he had until the last second. I gave him his number and he looked me right in the eye and said, "One day I'll get there, I don't have any quit in me." That Airman is a pig.

There are two other traits of pigs that deserve to be noted. Pigs normally associate mostly with other pigs. If you look in the barn yard you will see pigs walking around the chickens but that is just to get to where they need. Most of the time pigs will huddle in with other pigs. Pigs also breed other pigs. A pig will not give birth to, raise and eventually set off into the wild anything other than a pig. The lesson here is simple: associate with other committed people (pigs), and make sure you're developing your Airmen into pigs, not hens. In fact, it is a responsibility of the pig to breed other pigs.

In the months and years ahead we are going to see some major changes within the Air Force and the Air National Guard. The Air Force structure is changing and I know many Airmen have already had to adjust to the changes, with even more change on the horizon. We are heading into a time where more will need to be done with less and there will be no time for anyone other than the truly committed. What this means is that we are in a time of pigs.

If we are to succeed in adapting to this change, we need the proper mindset and to change the way we think. We need to adapt the pig mentality and be committed to the tasks at hand. We need to ask, "What can I do" and not "why are we doing this?" and we need to make more pigs. The changes ahead will separate the hens from the pigs.

So are you an egg-layer or are you ready to get your snort on?