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Do Something Amazing

Chaplain (Col.) Shon Neyland, Pacific Air Forces Command Chaplain, speaks with Master Sgt. Kristen Allen, religious affairs, in his office at Headquarters PACAF, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Sept. 5, 2018.

Chaplain (Col.) Shon Neyland, Pacific Air Forces command chaplain, speaks with Master Sgt. Kristen Allen, PACAF religious affairs, in his office at Headquarters PACAF, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Sept. 5, 2018. Neyland is writing a series commentaries and staring in videos about the importance of resilience in your life. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Eric Donner)


When I was on deployment to Baghdad, Iraq a few years ago, I recall how the Ugandan guards at the dining facility entrance would often stop me and they would say, “Chaplain, Do Something Amazing!” 

At first, I thought I was special and I was the only one they were talking to but then I began to notice that they told everyone who was coming through the doors to “Do Something Amazing.” Although they knew it was my goal to serve the people, doing something amazing was not limited to those in the helping profession. The Ugandan guards were simply trying to encourage all who would listen to make a difference in the lives of others as we carried out our mission. The mission varied from medical, ground forces, air forces, operational, administrative, technical, intelligence, but in the end, the message was the same. Their encouragement was on target as I wanted to make a difference in the lives of those I served during some of the most tumultuous times of the Iraq War. Interestingly those Ugandan guards were serving out a poverty-stricken East African nation and under great duress at home and sometimes in the locations they served, yet they expressed a positive outlook on life and inspired many. President Lincoln said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” The same can be said for our goals and plans today. As we begin a new year we will often ask, “What’s next?” I believe it is the perfect setting to determine to, “Do Something Amazing!”

What are your goals for 2019? Determine that you will Do Something Amazing this year in your profession, personal life, and in your community. Over the years, I created a simple acrostic to push me towards my personal and professional goals. I termed the acrostic AIM: A = Attitude; I= Integrity; and M = Motivation. These are three key elements that I believe will push us to success in our lives and to AIM at our destinies.

It is your Attitude that determines your altitude or how high you go in life. The greatest thing one can do is to keep a positive attitude in everything we do. Life is about perspective and how we see it. There will be tough times, but we must keep going and not quit. When Thomas Edison, the great inventor, was asked about his failures with his 1,093 patents and specifically the incandescent light bulb in which he had 3,000 attempts before it worked, he retorted, “I did not fail 3,000 times, but I discovered 3,000 ways that did not work.” Of course, the second element of the acrostic is Integrity and as Air Force members, we are quite familiar with this Core Value. We live and breathe integrity every day in our missions to defend America and her allies. Integrity is making the tough calls to do the right thing and not take short cuts or violate rules or policy. It is being honest and forthright. The late General Norman Schwarzkopf,

Commanding General during the Gulf War said, “The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.”

Finally, to go forward in life and achieve our goals, we need Motivation. When I was an OTS Flight Commander, I used to tell my flights that I could not motivate them to do anything, but that they must motivate themselves. I tried to create a positive environment where the team believed they could reach their goals. I was a Flight Commander for both Basic Officer Training (BOT) and Commissioned Officer Training (COT). At one point during COT, my flights won “Honor Flight” five consecutive classes and my fellow Flight Commanders were

wondering how those flights reached their goals. I told them one word: Motivation! Motivation means taking action and the desire to achieve, indeed to Do Something Amazing! General Henry “Hap” Arnold, the late great leader of our Air Force said it this way, “Your limits are somewhere up there, waiting for you to reach beyond infinity.”

As you contemplate A.I.M., my encouragement is for you to create an overall plan to get where you want to be. Second, set realistic goals and begin with the end in mind to put that plan into action. Third, chart your course with objectives (both short and long-term) to reach your goals. Fourth, revisit your goals and objectives regularly to measure results and/or progress. Finally, determine where you can make a difference in this coming year and as the Ugandan guards would say, “Do Something Amazing!”