unlimited leader - military lessons

It’s a BIG day…

I sit here bawling my eyes out. Not because of sadness or sorrow, but because of deep love, appreciation, and pride for my 17 yo nephew who just graduated from Army boot camp.

I’ve always had an affinity for those in the Armed Forces. I tear up EVERY TIME I see them in the airport, in the grocery store, or driving in their car in uniform. I go out of my way to say, “Thank you,” and offer a hug if they’re open (pre Covid of course…cuz, ya know, that’s off limits now).

There aren’t enough words in any language to express my support and gratitude for what they do for our country. Now that one of my own is included I’m legitimately speechless.

Lessons Learned

As I watched the live stream I was overcome with emotion, not only for my nephew, but the other 199 graduates who made the decision to give a part of their lives to serve this country. The commencement speaker talked about the Army values, and I couldn’t help but equate them to leadership lessons that apply to all of us.

  • We’re all capable of hard things. True to 21st century technology, his battalion posted a lot of the group’s training on their FB page. I got to see my nephew go in and out of the gas chamber, crawl with a rifle under barbed wire, and complete a 0500 physical challenge. While the average leadership position doesn’t require that much physical exertion, it certainly requires that much mental exertion. In the face of organizational adversity, be Army Strong.
  • Tough decisions can and will be made. My nephew was inducted into the Army National Guard at 16. His prefrontal cortex isn’t close to being fully developed, and yet he demonstrated conviction and decisiveness to say, “Yep. This is for me.” To be fully transparent, he made the decision at a much younger age and still chose to follow through when it came time.
  • It’s not about him. It never was, is, nor will be. As a soldier, you learn that your job is to defend the US Constitution, serve your country, and protect your peers. In short, put your ego aside and ensure others’ safety. The most effective leaders learn early and demonstrate often that level of humility. They protect their own and share their ideas, but rein in their egos to allow others to flourish and grow.
  • His biggest lesson was self-discovery. I had the privilege to communicate frequently with him by letter over his 10 weeks away. In every letter he mentioned, at least once, how much he learned about himself and what lessons he’ll carry forward in life. As a leader, the absolute most important, hands down, nothing will make you more effective, is self discovery and ultimately awareness. I say that with such conviction because I believe it to my core. It’s what I’ve built my entire practice around. If you don’t know you, there is absolutely no way you can lead others. It’s the same in love. If you don’t love yourself, you couldn’t possibly find genuine love for another. Get a coach. Do the work. Dig Deep. Know yourself inside and out in order to maximize your effectiveness and potential … as well as that of your team.

In closing…

To anyone in the military who reads this, Thank You. I appreciate you with every fiber of my being and admire your conviction to sacrifice your life for the rest of us. To fellow leaders or those in the making, your willingness to step up and take the reins is admirable too. It’s not easy being at the helm, making decisions in the interest of the many. Leadership, military or civilian, takes self-awareness, humility, adaptability, resilience, and empathy. Continue to build these muscles and there will be no stopping you. Be[come] the leader everyone wants to have.

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