When your leadership story ends, will you be able to say you left a legacy? Better yet, will you be able to say you led a legacy and now there are others leading a legacy because of you? As I prepare to hang up my Air Force uniform after more than twenty years of military service, I know the Airmen I’ve led will continue to lead a legacy. They will lead a legacy of compassion, duty, friendship, warrior ethos, commitment, hard work, faith, persistence, empathy, character, and so much more.
My late great-grandfather Buster (photo at right) served during WWII and he served for only a few years. He always told me, it was in those few years where he felt the power of personal character and leading a legacy. When I was a young Track team Captain for my high school track team, he told me to focus on leading my teammates instead of leaving a legacy. Of course, back then I wanted more than anything to make it to the state finals every year, and I only ended up making it to state finals once. When he taught me about leading a legacy, my actions as a captain changed. I began spending more time going to the field events and sprints to cheer on my teammates, I took them Gatorade and fruit. I ran my races but made sure to visit every team event and every track mate. Something wonderful happened, my teammates started doing the same after their races and events. It didn’t stop there, each season in track one of my teammates qualified for the state finals and they requested their Captain to join them. They wanted their leader in the stands when they were competing in the shot put, first ever girl’s pole vault event, sprint relays, and distance races. They could have chosen anyone to take with them…yet they chose me. This was my first lesson in servant leadership.
I have seen many of my Airmen and peers doing the same thing in the Air Force these last twenty plus years. Every day my Airmen work beside their teammates, they led their fellow Airmen (really lead them, by championing them, pushing them positively to be better, know more and do better.) Each of them is leading their own legacy.
As I leave the Air Force I know the legacy which started on the track back in 1996 will continue on in the hearts of the Airmen I’ve led. They may not remember me in 5 years, but they WILL lead their own legacy in the hearts and minds of every Airman they work with, lead, or meet!
“Lead a Legacy”
Love & Leadership,