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Start with why

  • Published
  • By Maj. Joel Bolina
  • 375th Civil Engineer Squadron
As our Department of Defense continues to be subjected to budget cuts, we will continue to find ourselves doing more with less. Our efforts to do the best that we can, and are expected to do in this already resource constrained environment will continue to result in long, tiring and thankless days.
So what's my motivation? Why do I keep going despite the ongoing and upcoming challenges?

For me my "why" can be simply answered by a scene in one of my favorite movies directed by Steven Spielberg titled, "Saving Private Ryan."

In the movie, Army Capt. Miller and seven other men are set on a mission to find Ryan and take him back home and out of harm's way. On their way to retrieve PFC Ryan, they come across a German machine gun position close to an abandoned radar station.

Despite the recommendations of his men to avoid the machine-gun nest, Captain Miller decides to risk the lives of his men and neutralize the position. In their efforts, a medic is killed in action and they capture a German prisoner of war. After the German POW completes his grave detail tasks, the squad members prepare to execute the German POW, but is instead released by Captain Miller.

Viewing Miller's decision as unwise and compounded by the previous loss of two team members, a huge argument erupts among the squad questioning Miller's leadership and the purpose of the mission. To defuse the situation and justify the mission, he explains why he pushes forward despite the seemingly insurmountable odds of finding Private Ryan in the following quote: "Ahh, Ryan. I don't know anything about Ryan, I don't care. The man means nothing to me; he's just a name. But if, you know, if going to Ramelle, and finding him so he can go home, if that earns me the right to get back to my wife, well then, then that's my mission."

Again, for re-emphasis: "... if that earns me the right to get back to my wife, well then, then that's my mission."

So what drives me to do the best that I can on and off the job? Similar to Captain Miller, I do the best that I can because I try to be a great American citizen-soldier. I do the best that I can because I am in the greatest Air Force in the world and my chain-of-command expects it from me. But in its most simplistic form, I do the best that I can, so I can look my family in the eyes when I get home and tell them, without saying a word, that I did them proud...Find your "why"...and the rest will fall into place.