Chevrons Podcast

The Chevrons podcast endeavors to gather valuable experience and information from notable individuals from across the spectrum of the enlisted force. From junior enlisted to senior leaders and those in between, we will address everyday challenges and hurdles the enlisted force faces. Our guests are welcome to impart their experience, knowledge and philosophy onto our audience – the enlisted force.

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Audio by Airman 1st Class Francesca Skridulis

Chevrons - Ep 004 - Getting out of your comfort zone

  • 102nd Intelligence Wing
  • Sept. 3, 2021 | 31:47

Chief Master Sgt. Rachel Landegent, State Command Chief Master Sgt. for the Arizona Air National Guard,​ Papago Park Military Reservation, Phoenix, Arizona., and Airman 1st Class Nolan Kaldenberg, Paralegal in the Staff Judge Advocate's Office at Otis Air National Guard Base, shared their perspectives on potential benefits, personal and professional, of reaching outside of your comfort zone and taking advantage of development opportunities.

Sullivan: hello air warriors welcome to another episode of chevron's the podcast enlisted force i'm Chief Master Sergeant sean Sullivan

Skridulis: and i'm Airman 1st Class Francesca Skrdulis today we have a couple of awesome guests Chief Master Sergeant Rachel Landegent she is the State Command Chief Master Sergeant for the Arizona Air National Guard and

Sullivan: also we have A1C Nolan Kaldenberg our very own 102nd paralegal and just an outstanding Airman

Skridulis: Chief Landegent if you don't mind could we start with you tell us a little bit about yourself

Landegent: yeah awesome well first of all thank you for asking me to be part of this podcast today and talk about professional development this is my first podcast that i've done so hopefully you know fingers crossed we pull this off and do it do it well but it's truly an honor to be asked to do this second I want to tell Chief Sullivan congratulations on your next selection on your new selection to be the State Command Chief it's an awesome opportunity for you to do this and this podcast if this is anything that is up and coming for your Airmen I know you're going to do great things so a little bit about myself my entire military career has been in the Air National Guard i'm currently as you said an Arizona Airman i'm the Arizona State Command Chief i've been in five different states and wings or states territories and units I have been part of different missions which has been completely a blessing to be able to kind of move around my family moved for civilian jobs and so I guess you could say i'm a true Airmen of Airmen that i've experienced transferring interstate transfers from unit to unit moving to different states pcsing and understanding what that is like and then also being part of a lot of different units having spent 17 years of those being a drill status guardsman I can speak for what the Airmen go through and what it's like to integrate into two different units all of those I think even early in my career were difficult to move and integrate into a new unit but ultimately they all gave me such an awesome experience to move in and be able to see a broader picture in all the different missions that are out there and being part of you know amc aetc acc fight you know being at fighter wings being at refueling wings being at training wings all the different wings that I was part of and all the different missions also having been part of that was you know a few different conversions where we lost a mission or we were bracked and being part of that all of that opened my eyes to see a lot more that I probably would not have been exposed to if I would have just stayed put in in one unit I also you know I know we're going to talk about a lot of the development but really I had people tap me on the shoulder along the way and being exposed to so many different people and different mission sets and different opportunities that opened the door for me to do so many different things you know like when I got to Arizona somebody asked me about being a first sergeant and someone asked me about you know working on counter drug we have the border mission in Arizona I met people along the way that asked me to go on ados tours and all of those different things without kind of chronologically going through my career has exposed me and kind of written my story for where I am where I am and all often saying yes to a lot of really hard things but I knew that if I was going to grow as an Airman I needed to say yes to do a lot of those different things and saying yes to move to different locations and that has given me an experience that I think's been invaluable as being an Arizona Air National Guardsman now but being in five different states which included Iowa South Dakota Oklahoma Arizona and Puerto Rico

Skridulis: wow that is

Sullivan: yeah that's a journey

Landegent: it has been an awesome journey

Sullivan: and Airman Kaldenberg tell us a little bit about yourself what you do for the weighing any history maybe any family history or air force lineage hint hint

Kaldenberg: sure so i've been in an air force family for 20 years my dad was in I think he joined in 1985 so it's always kind of in my head that I should join the Air Force and I finally joined in 2018 to be a paralegal for the wing so I work in the legal office around lawyers that's also what i'm going to school for i'm hoping to go to law school starting next year so the Air Force has been great you know I joined to develop some of my skills some of my professional skills and I learned everything I could while I was here and I think i've been grind away at that

Sullivan: and I can attest to the fact that that A1C Kaldenberg is always reaching outside of his comfort zone anytime we need an airman for anything in the wing or special assignments or any growth opportunities you've been right there in the forefront of taking advantage of that but I want to shift over to to your Chief in that that vast career that you talked about and all the moves that you've made you've really gotten outside of your comfort zone for growth a lot of growth and a lot of different you know different opportunities what has that meant to you through your career and to where you are now how has that growth helped you become a better leader a better Airman

Landegent: yeah I mean really it's about exposing myself to things that I would not have been exposed to otherwise that opened the doors to experience different things and then I was able to experience those and bring them back into my wings whichever wing I was at at the time and then bring that exposure to Airmen and help them see opportunities and things that were available I mean for me professional development you know it's an opportunity to further grow whatever your foundational skills are like such as your afsc you know your seven level your five level and then on top of your pme also but for me it just it really opened the door to have exposure to people places experiences views that were outside of what I grew up knowing or believing growing my network I mean one of the biggest things I think of getting outside the comfort zone and going and doing professional development or trying new things that ultimately developed me was the network of friends peers mentors the people that I have to support me in my career or people that I can rely on when I have questions so that's really been one of the biggest things I think for younger Airmen or if I kind of look back early in my career going to als in residence really kind of planted a seed for me because it's total force and you're there with active guard and reserve and getting to meet all those different people from different afsc's doing so much great work in the Air Force total force and then that planted the seed for me to just keep going and developing and learning more I got hungry for it after I went to als really but the other thing I you know I would say about professional development is it is beyond what the requirements are you know it's each time you do a professional development and you know we can if we have time we can kind of go into some that are you know there's so much out there there's we're never short of opportunities to to develop but each experience you know or each event it really improves your personal and professional growth and it is it's beyond that but I think that there's really specific times in our careers that we need certain types of development and you know even the old school little brown book it states in there at each rank that you know it's an expectation for you to professionally develop and it has helped me in my personal and professional life it's helped me with relationships you know there's all kinds of different broadening experiences that helped me just become more well-rounded so I kind of mentioned that it helped me be hungry you know for what else was out there that I didn't know about but it also helped me have a better understanding of things that I wouldn't have known or been exposed to

Sullivan: and Airman Kaldenberg I know you know being a first-term airman you're still new you're still getting your feet wet you're still trying to understand you know and fully comprehend and advance through the earlier phases of your career but from what the Chief was saying what are some things that you possibly see in your future as you continue your professional growth and development that you would have your eyes on for other professional military opportunities or just growth opportunities inside the wing is there anything you're kind of looking at at your stage

Kaldenberg: well as Chief said i'm just starting out but i'm always looking for those there's opportunities outside of my comfort zone I was signed up last year for air assault school however that was unfortunately cancelled due to covid hopefully going to go to ranger school for next summer and those are you know more military specific development but someday down the line I hope to be a jag officer take what i'm learning on the civilian side and use it for the military has given me all the opportunities to study and not accrue massive debt going to college and even though it's not necessarily the enlisted development still development that the Air Force has helped me do which I think is you know something every day every time I go to drill there's something new that I learn to pick up
Skridulis: I have a lot of respect for your answer Airman Kaldenberg and I remember we were in student flight together I think we enlisted around the same time so I just wanted to to ask you even back student flight for me was definitely something that was out of my comfort zone you know your first experience in the military but has there been anything that was challenging for you either just making the decision to go out of your comfort zone or once you did it was still it was still maybe something that was a challenge or a struggle

Kaldenberg: I mean choosing my afsc it's one of the more academically challenging ones in the Air Force so even just like by tech school it was a lot of studying it was very hard you had to you know work with other people to get to these learning goals and make sure that you didn't fail along the way and sometimes I can kind of be a loner but it definitely made me go out work with other people work with prior enlisted and learn how to be more of a team player while simultaneously you know developing my academic skills and developing my skills at paralegal definitely

Skridulis: I had a very similar experience at tech school i'm very much a loner as well but some of some of those those skills are are hard and you you really want to do well on these tests you can come back and do well for your unit and so you had to had to learn how to work with other people which was new for me Chief Landegent I really liked what you said in your first tell about yourself in order to grow you had to say yes what was like a challenging event that either was challenging to go out of your comfort zone or once you got there might have been challenging

Landegent: sure sure well I like I briefly talked about early on in my career just moving to a new base was out of my comfort zone the first unit that I joined was in the city that I grew up in so I was there for about five years and then I moved to a new unit and the civilian side of why my family moved so many times it was always unknown how long we were going to be there I think at one point I was only in a unit for about a year to the date and you're just starting to acclimate and get to know people and find your way and then you know civilian demand comes along and moves you again luckily you know we have a great we have great opportunities to transfer between units and states and i've been blessed to be able to do that each time that has been a demand on the civilian side but it was it was not always easy to do that I learned I had to learn how to do that as you were both talking about going to tech school was uncomfortable and learning to interact with people I had to learn how to interact each time I went into a new unit every unit and every mission has their own culture and so you have to kind of adapt to the culture of what's happening or what the needs are of that it doesn't doesn't mean anything separate from meeting air force standards or the compliance that every mission has the basis of inspections or you know what an airman is or who they are none of that changes unit to unit but when I talk about different cultures there's just different cultures under each majcom it's really evident once you've been in each of them of how they operate and how they push forward to make mission happen the ops tempo sometimes is different so having the opportunity to do that but in the beginning it was very it was very challenging but in the end I absolutely actually love it now because it exposes me each time to something new that I didn't know before and I as I listened to both of you talk about your experience at tech school you will find that with each development that you go to even when you go to an in-resident pme or you go to a new course or you have an opportunity you know ranger school extremely challenging but you know you put yourself out there ultimately you're investing in yourself and every time you do anything hard you're it the payback is going to fulfill in your own career but all of your peers and even as you mentor up and down all those experiences are going to help the Air Force be better

Skridulis: definitely thank you so much for sharing

Sullivan: you both have a really interesting perspective obviously Chief you're at one end of your military career you're kind of at the peak of it and you know Airman Kaldenberg you're kind of like the beginning of your career but I always am interested in how your professional military development and how your experience in the national guard is helping you outside of the military you know such as your home life your relationships obviously Chief you don't have a civilian job this is your job but you know i'm sure Airman Kaldenberg you have a job so let me start with you Airman Kaldenberg how has your time so far in the military and the professional development and what you've been exposed to how has that helped you outside of the military

Kaldenberg: well I was actually talking to Chief about this the other day but it definitely made me a better student and that sounds weird but before I went to before I joined the Air Force I wasn't that great of a student in high school I had like a 2.9 gpa but after sort of maturing a little bit developing some of those skills a little bit more I i'm spacing on the word but a little bit more determination to do what I wanted to do now I have almost a 4.0 gpa in college it's definitely made me better at just working towards my goals it's made me just a lot more goal oriented

Sullivan: that shows tenacity and drive that's excellent Chief same question posing to you how has it affected you outside of your military

Landegent: right well you know I i think i've said this a few times but definitely the broadening enhancing experiences in life in general we've talked a lot about education and we talked about pme and tech school but ultimately beyond that there's so many opportunities that are available to us in the Air National Guard that will help i'm just going to kind of ramble a bunch that have come to the top of my head of things i've done that are available they cost nothing for us to do you know it at the most basic level being involved in your junior enlisted council top three family day planning your state's enlisted association your civil air patrol that's at your wings all the way to taking four lens courses emotional intelligence reading the love language book doing strong bonds excuse me coaching 101 you know being part of the diversity inclusion council to all the way to you know going on tours being on covid orders doing border mission and all the things jointly that we've done all of that I mean and I could keep going with a lot of other things at the Chief level of all the development opportunities that are strategic that we have the opportunity to go to you need your joint pme done to do those things and when you do your joint pme in the mid grade you know say as a staff tech sergeant and you start doing some of those things it starts opening opportunities for all of these all of those give you investment in yourself investment in your family investment in your how to have relationships with each other all of those things that i've been able to do were all a lot of them were self-awareness and a lot of them helped me grow because you know we'll just go with like four lenses four lenses when you do that and i've done it three or four times in my career and sometimes it changes over time you know when I did it as a staff sergeant compared to when I do it now i've developed and grown a lot and my perspective has changed on different things and though my personality is a lot the same I view things differently or what becomes a priority can change and so all of those things of course they affect my relationships within my family with my friends how I interact with community members you know and just really investing in those things has helped me to have a like I said a broader scope of what's available for me to grow and for me to give back

Sullivan: excellent thank you for sharing

Skridulis: yeah I recently I filmed part of what we have is called the time conference it's technical sergeants involved in mentoring enlisted Airmen and I was just filming but I got to sit in on a few of those things and I was surprised like you've been talking about both of you this whole time a lot of these opportunities really do enhance both the personal and professional they have a lot of overlap so that was really cool for me to see right now Airman Kaldenberg I know you're aware but we're doing a lot of things with regards to enlisted professional development and so Chief Landegent with accelerating change you know and not losing is there anything that you've worked on or seen success in in your positions that you think that other wings could benefit with regards to that

Landegent: yeah I think one position that's really unique to the Air National Guard is called the hra position the human resource advisor position that that is assigned to the wing commander at each wing they have a plethora of development opportunities and a lot of self-actualization self-awareness emotional intelligence all the diversity inclusion things all of that that falls under there and I see that if the wings that are utilizing that position are building stronger more resilient more developed Airmen one of the other things that I see that we're working on in our state but other states are doing it is a mid-grade professional development I personally believe that there's a gap and there are some things that our Airmen especially our drill status guardsmen like I said I was 17 years as a drill status guardsman so I can relate to the things or the challenges that our drill status guardsmen have in terms of learning different things that are not necessarily enough time on a drill weekend that I see other states having a two or three day course where they're teaching their Airmen some of those things so that when they go back to the squadron they know how to do some of those supervisory duties some of those duties that will prepare them to be a better senior nco and I plan to put one of those type of courses in place in 2022 but I definitely see that working in the other wings and I try to reach out and ask you know for feedback from them or what kind of agendas they have in those other states to help us get after what we need to be doing here

Skridulis: definitely I mean i'm not the the the know all on what's going on at the wing but I think Chief Sullivan I think we're starting to reach out more to other wings I know the 104th and probably across the state I think being connected and collaborating is kind of the path forward

Sullivan: absolutely and if you don't think I haven't been sitting here taking some notes Chief we're going to be talking offline and some of that stuff because I think there's good opportunity for all Airmen in all states to grow from this

Landegent: absolutely

Sullivan: one of the things that was just brought up in accelerate change and lose is the word lose I once had a coach an athletic coach who said that I never learned anything about a team or a player through easy victory I only learned through challenging events adversity and seeing how people grow from loss so with that said i'm going to start with with you Airman Kaldenberg inside or outside the military but since you have been a part of the military is there something that you you have ever not succeeded in or had difficulty getting over then what skills and tools have you used to build from that adversity or that loss and what growth have you gained from it

Kaldenberg: so i'm not geez it's a good question Chief um so i've had some personal loss in the past couple years as we know my brother was hit by a car I used by now but before I joined the Air Force so helping him sort of deal through all the physical issues that he's had has definitely been a big point of personal growth I took that as an opportunity instead of you know you know giving him pity or wallowing in sorrow with him I said well he's gonna need somebody who's there for him so it might as well be me and on top of that recently my grandmother passed so helping the family deal with that partially with some of the things i've learned from the Air Force like me being a public notary helping with documents and giving what legal knowledge I have to my aunt so she can process some paperwork it's definitely been a growing experience because it's taking on additional responsibilities and helping people through a difficult time and I think that the Air Force has definitely taught me all those skills it's definitely helped me develop to be able to do that better

Sullivan: thank you and I know you have been dealing with with some losses and I know that one of the things you must have learned is your warrior ethos because every time that we engage every time we see you you're you just seem stronger and stronger as you're you're getting over more and more adversity Chief I pose the same question to you

Landegent: well I would say one thing that I have learned definitely is the only way that you lose is if you don't try so if you're trying you're always going to win even if the end result isn't exactly the way that you thought it would turn out so my dad committed suicide and that's a that's ultimately what led me to join the military and then everything I learned along the way you know from the support that I had the path that I had the structure the military gave me the educational benefits you know the list goes on and on of the things that the military has offered me to have the support that I need to when I became a first sergeant we talk about as a first sergeant Chief Sullivan you know this as well as I do you experience a lot of loss and tragedy and caring other people's hardships and learning to kind of work through that as a first sergeant and I know you know our commanders often deal with the same kind of things and doing the resiliency training course was a turning point doing the assist training course you know mid-grade when I was a master sergeant those were some pivotal courses that helped me learn how to kind of deal with those even more but even there's opportunities everywhere we look we have each other everyone I believe everyone in the military has experienced something that they can relate to with loss and or change that's happened in their life that's been unexpected that you can rely on each other but we also have military one source we have the dph we have all these opportunities to seek support for any of the things that that we need so the like I said right in the beginning is that you know not seeking the support that we need and not leaning on each other and not giving each other the support to get through loss or hard times you know that's that would be where we fail but it's never a fail you know if you're trying even when you're going through hard times and everybody's journey looks different sometimes it takes people longer to get through some of those trials and sometimes you know people can get through them we don't know what everyone's circumstances or backgrounds are so you have to be just there to offer them what's needed as we move along but the military's definitely has a plethora of support in place to help us with different times of loss or change

Sullivan: I agree that there are tools out there but you did mention one that is always near and dear to my heart and that is wingmanship I personally think that most of society's problems can be solved by having good wingmen and that goes back to my times in law enforcement as well as through the military because when you look at that every unfortunate decision an airman makes or every failure not everybody but most failures that people have if they had a good wingman mentor coach somebody by their side right there helping assisting directing or preventing you know something bad to happen I i think that's the key I think wingmanship is is the foundation and the first step on that along with all the all the other programs we have

Landegent: right

Skridulis: awesome I think we're coming up on our time just a minute or two left I just want to say thank you both for being on this taking time out of your day and really thank you both for your perspectives and your thoughts on on all of this

Sullivan: and again I echo Airman Kaldenberg thank you and Chief thank you great perspectives and great insights appreciate your time

Landegent: yeah absolutely I really appreciate it's been an honor to be on here if I can kind of just leave a couple notes about development that i'll put out there for the Airmen you know what I would say about professional development is start early there's things you can do early in your career that will enhance your journey and to develop and then you know say yes when someone taps you on the shoulder i'm sure some of my Airmen even within the state here have seen me tap them on the shoulder and you get tapped on the shoulder and someone sees something in you that you might not see don't hesitate they see something that is in your future try in your best way possible even with life's challenges with work and civilian life but try to say yes to those and take advantage of them if someone's tapping on the shoulder and then I think the last thing I would say is you know make goals and find a support team that will help you get there we kind of have that hurry up and wait and sometimes that is what it what it takes with development as you need to get the things done that you need to get done you know check those boxes but then you're going to be ready when the other bigger opportunities come along and then you know just I say own your own uniqueness that makes you you as you develop and grow continue to just reach out for those things are going to help you become the best you and so thanks a lot I really appreciate being on this podcast it's been an awesome journey and yeah Chief I can't wait to have some offline conversations

Sullivan: oh they're coming Chief they're coming

Landegent: I can't wait

Skridulis: Airman Kaldlenberg do you have any final thoughts or wisdom it might be hard to follow Chief Landegent up but we would love to hear what you have to share

Kaldenberg: you know I think I absolutely agree with what Chief said I think that the Air Force is a great spot for personal development and people should always be looking out for each other I know I wouldn't be where I am today without some of the mentors i've had along the way and it's just been an amazing experience for me so far to get out of my comfort zone do all these things that you know 18 year old Nolan would have never had any concept of in his entire life so this has been it's one of the most amazing things i've ever done in my entire life and you know I hope that more people can echo that same experience

Skridulis: awesome thank you

Sullivan: well i'm glad we got that final thought there Airmen that that was a good answer nice nice way to drop the mic

Landegent: yes well done

Kaldenberg: thanks Chiefs

Landegent: yeah

Sullivan: thank you all very much and I hope everyone joins us next month for our next episode and have a great air force day