AUSTIN, Texas – Staff Sgt. Joshua Lorber didn’t know he was colorblind.
When he received the results of his Military Entrance Processing Station vision exam, he was surprised to learn that he saw colors differently than most people.
He remembers thinking, “Well, this isn’t going as planned.”
The Army subsequently informed Lorber, who had aspired to join the Cyber or Signal community, that his reduced ability to see an array of colors and distinguish between certain colors meant his options for Military Occupational Specialty had narrowed.
Among his new set of choices was the position of 68W: Army Combat Medic Specialist. While he previously hadn’t given much thought to the idea of a career in the medical field, the more he researched the opportunity, the more intriguing it became.
With his sights newly set on becoming a combat medic, Lorber moved forward with enlistment, leaving for basic training three days after his high school graduation.
Now six years into his Army experience, Lorber feels he has grown into the combat medic role as well as his current non-commissioned officer (NCO) status.
“It’s definitely a good fit,” he said. “I found a passion for my role in the Army.”
That passion, along with discipline and hard work, is one of the reasons the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command (MRDC) named Lorber its 2022 NCO of the Year.
Currently a senior operations NCO with MRDC at Fort Detrick, Maryland, Lorber views his position as a privilege, and always takes his assigned duties – from allocating ammunition to conducting trainings to syncing with senior command staff – seriously.
“I plan, prepare, execute and assess what is needed,” Lorber said.
He also speaks highly of the importance of teamwork and the efforts of his colleagues. “We all work together as much as we can,” he said.
Lorber appreciates the importance of modeling good leadership and seeking out continual personal growth. He frequently consults lessons from expert speakers on the topics of leadership, such as Simon Sinek, and adapts them to an Army context.
“I live by a couple principles that help me not only with Soldiers, but with task management and leadership in general,” he explained.
As part of his personal commitment to excellence, Lorber has formulated four principles for success, which he sees as being relevant both on and off duty:
Principle #1: “I will never make you do anything that I’m not willing to do myself.”
Lorber tells this to Soldiers frequently, noting that his willingness to work with and alongside teammates helps to build trust and improve overall unit performance.
His commitment to ensuring Soldier success also means he has encouraged those under his supervision to improve their physical fitness and operational aptitude, including by signing up for Soldier competitions. In the process, Lorber has studied and trained with those who want to excel, putting in early morning and evening hours as necessary to support the achievement of their goals.
The promise to be willing to do anything you would ask others to do was first shared with him by a superior shortly after he joined the Army, and it has stuck with him since.
“I realized how valuable that is, and how much Soldiers care about the willingness to come forward and lead from the front,” Lorber said.
Principle #2: “The NCO will conform to the Soldier.”
Lorber’s second principle is a statement about being willing and prepared to adjust one’s leadership style in order to meet the needs of Soldiers, who are trained to function as a unified team but still have unique individual learning styles and needs.
If you can “understand where they’re coming from, who they are and what they value, they’re going to be a lot more responsive to your leadership,” Lorber said.
With this principle in mind, Lorber strives to inform his Soldiers upfront why they are completing certain tasks and what he expects of them.
“If they understand the WHY, they’re a lot more open to the WHAT and the HOW,” he said.
Principle #3: “If it takes less than 90 seconds, do it now.”
A mantra for keeping organized at work and in his personal life, Lorber’s third rule reminds him to be proactive and productive.
“Instead of letting the small things pile up and create one massive obstacle, do the small things now then move on to the big things – and you’ll have more time for the big things,” he said.
Lorber applies the principle to his personal life as well as his professional life, committing to habits like setting out his uniform the night before and doing a quick review of regulation before mission.
Such tasks help ensure he is organized, prepared and can avoid having to rush to accomplish his daily duties.
Principle # 4: “Always be prepared and professional.”
“If you’re acting unprofessional, your Soldiers are going to act unprofessional,” he explained.
His fourth principle, then, is to be prepared and professional at all times.
“You never know who is looking at you as a role model, or a figure of leadership,” he said.
From having a fresh haircut to being prepared for exams, maintaining personal readiness and tidiness can go a long way in ensuring Soldier success.
Lorber considers his greatest success thus far to be helping the Soldiers under his supervision to develop and grow, opening their eyes to the potential they have and assisting them in overcoming unexpected challenges.
He hopes to one day teach the Advanced Leaders Course at the NCO Academy at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, but in the meantime continues to enjoy his time guiding and serving as a role model for fellow Soldiers and NCOs at MRDC.