What am I here for?

Hi! My name is Arun 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 one of our last, best hopes for the future. It’s taken me a long time and several existential crises to arrive at Enabled Word. I’m thrilled you’re here and hope you find our content useful.

I’m an Air Force veteran and former Air Force missile operator. I’ve met many people who didn’t know we still had nuclear weapons in the United States, much less on combat-ready alert. For the better part of a decade, I deployed throughout the Western U.S. to alert facilities 80 feet below ground with one other person and stood 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 2014, a select group of senior leaders undertook a massive effort to overhaul our profession and rehabilitate the Air Force’s image of nuclear operations. Nevertheless, positive momentum eventually gave way to old patterns of behavior and our persistent failure of imagination. We failed to lead.

As I prepared to leave the Air Force, I struggled (like many veterans) with what my next “mission” would be. My plan had long been to pursue a social sciences or public policy PhD then teach full-time. But the closer I came to application deadline, the less confident I felt in that path. I wanted to continue developing others and sharing what lessons I’d learned along the way. Yet I couldn’t shake the feeling that putting my family’s life on hold for six years (or more) while barely scraping by on a TA’s pay wasn’t the answer. I grew up cynical after a rough go in high school and college, followed by the military life’s ups and downs. 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.

Days turned to weeks, which turned to months, all while I 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. My friends and family will question me. Some may keep their distance. 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 how often institutions with all the potential in the world languish in old habits and fail to put 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. Sounds lofty and kinda 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 Enabled Word.

“Vulnerability is the path to courage.”

Brené Brown

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