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Leader Legacy: Words of Encouragement & Advice

Over the weekend, I was on a track doing a workout. While I don't love track workouts, I spent many miles preparing for and running physical fitness tests on tracks. The session I ran over the weekend got me reflecting on the advice and counsel I received when I was first getting my running legs under me.

Be brilliant at the basics - don't let physical fitness be something you worry about. (then Captain, now retired Colonel Johnson)

This idea of really staying sound in foundational elements of any leadership role has stuck with me. As a cadet, it was learning how to wear a uniform, how to march, how to lead a formation (which is definitely a perishable skill, which I realized when I had to dust off those skills for an official ceremony many years later).

This message taught me both the fishbowl concept (being a woman officer meant I was often the only one or one of few, which meant I lived the idea of asymmetry of attention early in my leadership life). It taught me that as a leader, you needed to know what the basics are in your environment - and then master them (or at least strive to). In various leadership roles I have had, when I sort out what the basics are for that role - I can spend my brain energy and focus on the most important part of the role: leading the people with intention.

Sprint the legs, slow on the corners. (then Cadet, now Colonel Camel)

I was actually chanting this in my head while I ran sprints on the track -- and I found myself smiling because this 20+ year old message that was the mantra of the mentor and friend (who at the time also didn't love to run) has stuck with me. (As did him teaching me visual recognition of airplanes (vis recce I later learned as an intel analyst). I've spent many miles running next to people who needed encouragement and shared his advice. His example had a ripple impact he probably never knew.

As I reflected, I was reminded that we have the opportunity to encourage and to build others up (even we aren't enjoying something either), or we can assume they will figure it out themselves.

As leaders, informal or formal, new or experienced, we have the opportunity to provide guidance to others and to provide words of encouragement.

Be the kind of leader that people reminisce and share about, not the leader who people try to forget.

What kind of leader can you be today? Tomorrow? This week? Or this lifetime?

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