What am I here for?
Hi! My name is Arun (pronounced “uh-roon”) and I’m a husband, father, and reformed-yet-still-unapologetic book addict. Truthfully. It’s ridiculous. I buy more books than I can read, read more books than I can talk about, and believe wholeheartedly that the book remains our last, best hopes for the future. It’s taken me a long time and several existential crises to arrive here. To arrive at the new Enabled Word. I’m thrilled you’re here and hope you find the content useful. I suppose since you clicked on a link to my “journey,” you’re looking to read more about it.
I’m an Air Force veteran and former operator of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). Yep, nuclear weapons. I’ve met many people who didn’t know we still had nuclear weapons in the United States, much less on alert and combat-ready. For the better part of a decade, I deployed throughout the Western U.S. to complex alert facilities and descended 80 feet below ground with one other person to stand ready behind one of the world’s most powerful strategic instruments. The job can be busy with daily maintenance, 24/7 security operations, and constant revision to hardware and software. Yet despite the significant responsibility and unique heritage, my fellow “missileers” and I grew up in “one of the world’s worst cultures” according to author Daniel Coyle. In the last few years, a select group of senior leaders undertook a massive effort to overhaul our professional way of life and rehabilitate the image of nuclear operations in the Air Force. Nevertheless, positive momentum eventually gave way to old patterns of behavior and our persistent failure of imagination. Our own failures in leadership.
As I prepared to leave the Air Force, I struggled (like many veterans) with what my next “mission” would be. Graduate school had long been my plan, to pursue a PhD in the social sciences and teach full time. But the closer I got to applying, the less confident I felt in that path. I wanted to teach, to continue developing others and sharing lessons I’d learned the hard way. Yet I couldn’t shake the feeling that putting my family’s life on hold for 4-6 years and spending the rest of my life as an academic was the right answer. I’d grown up cynical after a rough go during high school and college, followed by the ups and downs of military life. So naturally, when I thought about entering the business world, I was overcome by hesitation and outright fear.
I’m not trying to chase money … I want to do something that’s meaningful … I don’t know anything about business … I don’t know anything about money, products, customers …
This wasn’t me before, is it me now? I’m going to get ridiculed … my friends and family won’t get it and will scoff me off.
I can’t afford to fail. I can’t let my family down.
Any of these sound familiar? Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, all while vacillated and refused to take a leap of faith. Then one day, I stopped. I stopped questioning and starting writing. And thinking. And writing some more. And soon realized what the signs had been telling me. It will never matter what others think, it only matters what I think and what I believe is possible. Perhaps my friends and family will question my decision, my path. I may lose some. But it’s not about them. It’s not even about me. It’s about what I’m here to do, what I can do, for others. I’ve lamented for years about institutions with all the potential in the world to do good that languish in old processes and fail to put adequate intellectual force behind what they do. We can do better. We must do better. And for me? It was time to put my money where my mouth was and get after it. It was time to break out and seek the purpose chasing me, to put real thought and action behind an effort that involves all of us. Living better lives and leading our communities to a brighter future. It sounds lofty and pretty cheesy, doesn’t it? Good. That’s how you know it’s a challenge worth all the effort we can put toward it. Welcome to the new Enabled Word.
“Vulnerability is the path to courage.”Brené Brown