Finding balance and focus in the Air Force


Balancing your personnel and professional goals can be a challenge on its own. It can be even harder when instructing the Air Force’s future air battle managers on how to navigate life or death situations.

First Lieutenant Tal Berman, 337th Air Control Squadron instructor, deals with the challenges of maintaining a healthy personnel life, while still being focused on his professional goals of being an Air Force officer.

Berman grew up in Miami, Florida and wanted to see the world.

“As soon I was able, I started to travel,” Berman said. “I went everywhere from the Rocky Mountains to India. I took classes on leadership where we would live in the wilderness for a week and I would backpack across the country anytime I could.”

Before joining the military, Berman wasn’t really sure where he wanted to take his life.

“For a while I was really in a slump,” Berman said. “I was working in a job that I wasn’t really growing in, so I decided to try something crazy that would give me a jolt. That’s when I decided to try skydiving. The experience changed my life. When I’m falling I’m able to reach a state of flow and focus that helps me ground myself. This was when I was able to really decide that I wanted to take a different direction with my life.”

The second major event was meeting his girlfriend, Sadie.

 “While in India, my team practiced yoga every morning,” Berman said. “Once I got back to the states, I just kind of kept up the habit. I eventually signed up for a class, and we met there. She’s probably one of the happiest and nicest people I’ve ever met. She really knows how to bring me back down to Earth.”  

Though his father was in the Israeli military, Berman had never had much experience with the military lifestyle, but was intrigued when he spoke to an Air Force recruiter.

“I didn’t really know what I wanted to do after college,” Berman said. “Once I graduated I took a couple jobs and couldn’t really find anything that left me fulfilled. When the notion of joining the Air Force came up, I was interested in the leadership positions the military has to offer. I enjoy seeing people through to their strengths, whether it’s professionally or emotionally. I love being able to help people grow as individuals.”

Though he has aspirations of becoming a great leader and helping his fellow man, Berman said he does have to deal with the challenges of juggling his responsibilities as an instructor, and as the executive to the commander, as well as all the commitments of his personal life. At the same time he said he admires the many Airmen in his squadron that push him to be great.

“Maintaining my balance at work has always been a stressor for me,” Berman said. “The standard in this squadron is to always bring your ‘A-game.’ Though this can put me at my limits at times, it also makes me grow as a person. Being driven by the Airmen around me has been the best thing to happen to me. The way I judge a day whether it’s good or bad is if I’m able to make it home and have dinner with Sadie. If I can look back on the day while sitting across the table from her, it’s usually been a good day.”

Berman also said that hobbies can help you reach a more focused state of mind.

“At the end of the day if you want to find out about yourself and gain better focus in life, you need to find a hobby,” Berman said. “They help you maintain balance, allow you to get lost in your own head and really come to the realization of who you are and what you want. For me that hobby has been skydiving and playing music. You just have to find that one thing that helps you reach that meditative place.”