I firmly believe that when we know why we do something, we can use that as a compass to accomplish more. Knowing what motivates us will help us achieve our goals, both personal and professional.
Growing up, many of us were raised to believe that being successful equaled being driven, goal oriented and to be the best at everything we did. As soon as you accomplished one goal, you set your sights on the next or bigger goal. So, when I first joined the military, I was motivated by several things: becoming an obstetrical gynecological nurse, the need to repay student loans and the need to provide for myself/family. As you can see all of the things that motivated me were externally driven and centered on academic success and earning money or what it could provide for me and my family.
During my first eight years in the military, that motivation kept me moving through the ranks. I became a very competent nurse; paid my student loans and provided for my blossoming family. But something was missing. I could be a nurse anywhere; why had I chosen to be an Air Force nurse?
Luckily for me I had a mentor, a line officer, who challenged me to explore what motivated me to be an Air Force nurse. That journey began a long time ago, but led me on an amazing journey of self-discovery and personal leadership. During that time I realized that one phrase and five simple words defines what motivates me to be what I’ve become. That phrase is “I care,” or these five simple words: Impression, Commitment, Attitude, Responsibility and Enthusiasm. These have been my internal motivation for the last 15 years. “I CARE” motivates me every day. At first blush you would think it’s because I am a nurse, but it has more to do with recognizing that I am an officer first.
As an officer in the Air Force, I represent more than just the nursing corps; I represent the profession of arms. So, whether I am on or off duty, in my uniform or civilian clothes, taking care of a patient or being a commander, I always want that Impression to be positive and representative of our Air Force core values.
As a member of the profession of arms, I am Committed, not just to providing excellent healthcare to our patients, but also to mentoring Airmen to be the absolute best they can be as we serve together in our all-volunteer force of sacrifice and service to this great nation.
I have also learned as I moved through my career that no matter what may be happening, positive or negative in life, we all have the power to choose our Attitude each day, so make it positive. Your Airmen and coworkers will appreciate it. After all it takes fewer muscles to smile and speak to people than it does to frown and be grumpy every day. Try it; it will definitely improve your day and many other people’s day as well.
As you continue to move forward in your career, learn to embrace additional Responsibility. I know that seems like adding more work to your plate, because your supervisor or commander offers you additional responsibility. However, they are truly opportunities to excel, not only because you lead teams, complete projects and become better Airmen, but just take a moment and realize the amount of trust, faith and confidence your supervisor has in you. We should all be prepared to excel when given additional responsibility.
Finally, Enthusiasm is a force multiplier. As a leader, your positive energy, excitement and passion will inspire creativity and excellence in everything you and your Airmen do every day.
So, what gets and keeps me going? What motivates me? “I CARE” about being an Air Force officer; that’s what motivates me. It is amazing that my mentoring moment, although it happened as a captain 15 years ago, has been instrumental in enhancing my personal and professional leadership skills, and in increasing my happiness. It has shaped me and how I approach every task, opportunity, and most importantly, every day. So, I ask you … what gets and keeps you going? What motivates you?