BLUF – No one else can be you, which makes you the best version of yourself if you allow it.
The wifey and I listened to David Goggins’ audio book “Can’t Hurt Me” on our way to the next chapter in our lives at Ft Meade, MD. Note: the audio book from Audible includes additional commentary from David himself and really adds to the story. This is a rare call, but audio book > text book. His story is incredible and I won’t spoil it for you. One of my early takeaways in the book was how we remixed being “the only one” from a negative to a positive. Goggins was aware he was different from his surroundings in Indiana, but he never let those differences limit his drive to succeed.
My personal interpretation is that I’ve always been “the only one” because there is only one me. I’ve told several of my work teammates that they will never meet another officer/commander/teammate like me and advised that trying to imitate me is not a good idea. Diversity within the workplace can lead to great perspectives and solutions to encountered challenges, and I’ve never been shy to contribute my unique energy towards team success. I’ve picked up great techniques from successful leaders and figured out my own way to apply them accordingly. Inspired, not imitated. That approach is a great way to remain “the only one.”
As I exited command this month, I took stock of the new faces that sat next to me in squadron commander row. Interestingly, there were a total of four commanders who happened to be minorities, and none of them were replaced by a minority. Another female, minority squadron commander was being replaced by another female, minority squadron commander. I took notice of the changes but then moved on. In my mind, the outgoing commanders were being replaced by the most competent and qualified leader who earned their opportunity to command. I believe that performance in the military is rewarded based on merit and nothing else. I could be wrong, but I honestly believe that. I choose to work hard and let opportunities present themselves to me if I earn them. I strive to be an inspiring LEADER who happens to be an officer, who happens to be a husband, who happens to be into fitness, who happens to be a minority. I don’t let any of the “happens to be” labels define me first. I will be defined through my intentions and actions in this world, for better or worse. My actions and opinions have potentially put my career at more risk than actually needed, but I can least look at myself in the mirror knowing I’ve maintained my personal integrity. My actions and opinions make me uniquely “the only one”, and I look forward to growing even more. Goggins mentioned his transition of asking himself Why am I doing this? to What am I capable of? I believe this next chapter in my career will reveal even more of what I am capable of, and I’m truly excited about what lies ahead.
We are all connected singularities in this world. When you walk into a room, own your personal drive and hone your confidence to be the best you. Use your talents to bring others along and bring about team success. Your personal approach to life is best experienced when you embrace everything that makes you…you. After all, you’re “the only one.”