Commentary Search


One word

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Kristen Carter
  • 436th Medical Support Squadron

Deliver! That’s the mission statement of the 436th Airlift Wing. If you’re like me and have a hard time remembering mission statements that are more than a few words, then you’ll appreciate the simplicity of this mission statement. 

But what’s so important about a mission statement? Mission statements are meant to be short, action-oriented statements that identify a purpose. We all need a purpose. Going through life without a purpose is like chopping wood with a blunt blade. You’ll expend a lot of energy without any real progress. 

Without a purpose we end up being busy but not productive. Productivity is tied to achievement while busyness is tied to activity. Productivity brings on positive outcomes while busyness brings on stress and exhaustion. Author Brene Brown writes a lot about the culture of addiction to being busy and exhaustion as a status symbol. Do you know someone that hits the ground running as soon as the alarm goes off in the morning and doesn’t stop? Is that you? Are you addicted to busyness?

In the Chinese language, the word “busy” is composed of two characters: heart and killing. That sounds awful. So how do we prevent killing our heart and go from busy to productive? It’s through the focus of knowing our purpose. We know in the 436th AW that our purpose (mission) is to Deliver! Whatever you are delivering (be it healthcare, cargo, rapid mobility, etc.) you deliver hope and excellence each day. What an awesome purpose to guide us each and every day. 

What about your personal life? Do you have a personal mission statement? There are a plethora of books and self-help information on the web that tout the practice of developing personal mission statements. I challenge you to take the time to write a personal mission statement. No excuses. If you think you’re too busy then that’s exactly why this exercise is for you. I then challenge you to take that mission statement and just like the wing, bring that statement down to one word. Yes, just one word. Yes, you can do it. Why one word? According to Jon Gordon, Dan Britton, and Jimmy Page, authors of “One Word that will change your Life,” one word sticks. One word creates laser focus that lasts. Anyone can remember one word. 

My one word for this year is “bloom.” My word choice has nothing to with a fondness for gardening. In fact, I’m a horrible gardener. All the plants in my office are fake. We always hear the phrase “bloom where you’re planted.” Well, that’s great advice if you’re a wildflower but some people are more like orchids. In reality, if a flower doesn’t bloom you fix the environment in which it grows not the flower. Hence my one word…bloom. A remembrance to my purpose to create an environment where people and mission thrive. And as a reminder to water and care for the relationships and things I want to cultivate. 

Now it’s your turn. We painstakingly rewrite awards, reports and decorations changing words like “led” to “spearheaded.” Put that same effort into finding your one word mission statement. This one word will be your vision or theme to help you become a fuller version of yourself. How do you find your one word? It starts with your core values. While our personal values should be aligned with the Air Force cores values, it’s important to identify our own personal values. And just like with the Air Force core values, you can’t live into your personal values if you can’t name them. Find the word that anchors you to your values, to your beliefs. A word that answers the question of what you need in your life. A word that describes where you want to be in a year.  

The last thing I’ll ask you to do is put your word into practice. Post your word and share it with others for accountability. Let your word transform you and inspire others. Deliver, bloom, or whatever your one word is, may it help provide clarity and purpose in your life.