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Spiritual Resilience--Focus on the why

  • Published
  • By Chaplin (Maj.) Kent Schmidt
  • 60th Air Mobility Wing Chaplin
I'm currently reading a book on the Chief of Staff of the Air Force's reading list titled "Start with Why" by Simon Sinek. In his book, he chronicles the success of notable companies led by visionaries. Think of your favorite product or service. They probably came from one of the visionaries Sinek mentions.

He contends what sets them apart is not the products and services they deliver, but they build loyalty in their employees and customers by addressing the Why?

Sinek argues that many companies focus solely on the what. What can we produce? What can we offer that is better than the competition? These companies, some successful and some not, live in the reactive cycle, externally motivated by what's going on around them and driven by analysis of marketing data and trends.

However, the more successful companies work from the inside out. They began with and continue to foster a clear vision of their identity and why their company is unique. They foster innovation and creativity. They inspire and they allow their employees to be inspired. They not only think out of the box, they create new boxes.

It's all too easy for those of us serving in a high tempo Air Force to get driven and consumed by the "What?" What do I need to accomplish next week, today, by the top of the hour? What is the data saying? What are the trends we need to keep our eyes on? How should we react to these things? Getting caught up in the reactive world, some call it the tyranny of the urgent, can cause us to lose sight of the "Why?" The "Why" becomes subsumed by the "What."

I'd like to encourage you to make it a point to daily, take a deep breath or two, close your door, dim your computer screen and close your eyes and ask yourself "Why?" Why am I doing what I'm doing today? Why am I on this current trajectory? Why are my neck and shoulders so tight? This might take more then a few moments to discover. It may take a day of hiking, or bike riding or getting out to the golf course.

Once we get a clearer picture of the "Why," as Sinek notes, then we can move onto the more creative "How?" How can we accomplish the mission more effectively? How can we relate better to others? How can we lead in a purposeful manner? The "What" then becomes connected to purpose and meaning to the "Why" and the "How." In other words, we begin to live authentically.

Ultimately, I believe, we all serve a higher purpose that is connected to our true identities. I encourage you to make the time to study your favorite philosopher, or to read a good book, or to attend your chosen place of worship, so that you might strengthen or even rediscover your true identity, your higher purpose, and your reason for living. Who knows, you may become the next Steve Jobs or the Herb Kelleher of your workplace.