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I Corps 1st Sergeant of the Year talks about what it means to be ‘more professional than I’

3rd Bde., 2nd Inf. Div. Public Affairs

Published: 03:04PM October 2nd, 2013

Courtesy photo

First Sgt. Eric Olsen on patrol during a 2012 Afghanistan deployment. Olsen was selected last quarter as I Corps 1st Sergeant of the Year.

“No one is more professional than I.”

These are first words of the creed of the noncommissioned officer, and the premise of the Army’s enlisted leaders. At Joint Base Lewis-McChord, no one exemplifies those words more than 1st Sgt. Eric Olsen, the first sergeant for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.

Olsen is the senior noncommissioned officer at the company level, leading and training those soldiers who make up the brigade staff, both higher and lower ranking soldiers. He was named the I Corps First Sergeant of the Year last quarter, an accomplishment worth mentioning given how many other first sergeants he beat out to earn the title. But what is it about Olsen that sets him apart from other noncommissioned officers? What is it about him that makes him a good example to follow?

To find out what it is about Olsen that sets him apart from the hundreds of other first sergeants on JBLM, he was asked what the phrase “No one is more professional than I” means to him and how he applies the facets of the NCO Creed to his own life.

“When it comes to ‘No one is more professional than I,’ I think it’s a good gauge with which to base your actions off of,” explained Olsen. “It’s almost like saying to yourself, ‘what are the repercussions of my actions?’”

Olsen clarified that it’s not about whether he’s a first sergeant, a private or an officer, because it comes down to work ethic and caring about the effect of his actions.

“There’s a certain approach to everything. It’s inspiring to your soldiers when you’re able to not only sit back and take in the big picture, but at the same time you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty with the troops. A lot of times (I find it) difficult to step way back as a first sergeant and let people work. I feel like I’m the master tasker of this company, and I guilt myself to where I need to be out there doing whatever they’re doing but I can’t,” Olsen said.

Olsen said he has always held himself to a higher standard, but that he had to “step it up” when he was promoted several years ago. He realizes the soldiers in his charge look to him to be more professional than them “because I’m a first sergeant,” said Olsen.

Ultimately, Olsen’s knack for being a successful leader has less to do with the aforementioned and more to do with job satisfaction. He says he loves being a first sergeant and helping soldiers and that’s something all the leadership development classes in the world could never teach.

When it comes down to it, professionalism isn’t something that can always be taught in the classroom. A lot of the time, you’re either professional or you aren’t. Olsen can hold his head high and say “No one is more professional than I.”