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Commander's Corner: Chief Master Sgt. Brian Lewis

Chief Master Sgt. Brian Lewis, 47th Operations Group superintendent, encourages Airmen to explore their "why." He says, "Allow your 'why' to fuel passion within you. This will then push you to higher heights. At least it did for me." (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anne McCready)

Chief Master Sgt. Brian Lewis, 47th Operations Group superintendent, encourages Airmen to explore their "why." He says, "Allow your 'why' to fuel passion within you. This will then push you to higher heights. At least it did for me." (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anne McCready)

Have you ever asked yourself the most common question a person receives: why do you do what you do? I have asked this question many times before, and the standard cliché answers are often given: “because I signed up,” or “because it is the right thing to do.” Are these answers good enough? In my opinion, no! 

The “why” in life should provide purpose. This purpose should push you to perform when things suck. When life gets tough, your “why” should keep you in the fight without the thought of ever willingly leaving it. Ask yourself…Do you get up each day for family? On the other hand, does fame or fear drive you? These questions should allow for reflection that brings about drive. I have heard it said, “Life is short, live it to the fullest, because time waits for no one.” I suggest each of you take the time to figure out your “why.” 

For me, the “why” at my core is centered on acceptance. Throughout my life, I found myself seeking acceptance from family. To be more specific, this feeling dates back to when I was an eight-year old boy.

My father took my brother and me to the basketball court to shoot hoops. At the court, as most little boys do, I just wanted to hang out with my dad and brother. Nevertheless, a group of people who wanted to start a basketball game interrupted our time. Personally, I thought this would be okay, but unfortunately, this was not the case. Before the start of the game, team captains (one being my dad) had to choose who would be on each team. That day, my hopes faded as my dad overlooked me as a draft pick; however, it lit a fire for me to pursue basketball with only a passion born out of pain – the pain of never wanting to experience the feeling of not being good enough again.

Because of this, I made a competition out of just about anything, in hopes that those watching, including my dad, would know I was good enough. This situation fueled my passion at every level in the military and pushed me to strive for higher heights. All in an effort to demonstrate to those around me I was worthy. Even though I lost my dad to our Lord and Savior a few years ago, the passion born from pain still has not subsided.

I share this story with you because it is personal and real to me. I am also keenly aware that I am not alone in my “why.” For some, names and situations may differ, but the feelings burned within stay the same. Note, there are other things that also drive me to do what I do daily (i.e. family, country, duty, service, values, etc.), but my core purpose stems from that eight year old’s painful experience.  

I implore you to take time to uncover your "why." It might be as simple as my story, or as complex as life’s challenges. Nonetheless, allow your “why” to fuel passion within you. This will then push you to higher heights. At least it did for me.