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The Lessons of Leadership Are the Truths of Intersection
I sat bolt upright when the president began speaking to our class of 43 Stand-To Veteran Leadership scholars. If ever there was a time to be keyed-in, it was now. I was floating in an alternate dimension: the man whose decisions had charted the trajectory of my life, from the moment the towers fell when I was 16-years-old to today, an Army spouse of 11 years, was talking to me not on TV, live in this small room in Dallas.
My watch vibrated. I glanced briefly down and caught sight of a message from my 7-year-old, sent from our home thousands of miles away in Alaska.
“Sam pooped on the rug,” it said. A bonus visual also slid on the screen.
I snapped back to where I was, pushing away thoughts of the babysitter at my home and the challenges of puppy and human parenting.
That moment, like so many since the last five months with the George W. Bush Institute, was a juxtaposition of my life as a professional, parent, and scholar. But more importantly, it was a lesson on the intersection of those roles. It was the sudden knowing that the work and learning I and my fellow scholars have done around leadership principals isn’t about how we live in the private or public sectors, nor is it about the privacy of our homes.
Instead, it’s a revolutionary understanding of the way in which personal values weave themselves throughout and the urgent importance that such leadership plays in our world.
Learning that simple-seeming concept has been nowhere near as intuitive as I once assumed.
Leadership, I’ve learned through Stand-To, starts with understanding the pieces that make up the puzzle of your value system, moves to effectively communicating those values as principles in practice in whatever organization or situation you are in, and then continues forward as a life-long process of doing what you know to be right with as much positivity, authenticity, and humility you can muster, regardless of circumstance. How that plays out is seen at home, at work, and in my interactions with others. It is the use of the golden and platinum rules –thinking of others as I would think of myself, while also working to see life through a lens I can never share.
Before my participation in the Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program I understood the importance of values-fueled living. And although I thought I had a vague idea of the “how,” I realize now that I did not. It was only through drilling down into the nuts and bolts with the speakers put in my path by this program that I began to grasp that no, these leadership abilities are not just God-given.
Good leadership takes practical application and purposeful study. Becoming and being a good leader takes more than introspection. Instead it’s about fueling your position in your home and world with a variety of lived experiences and broad perspectives that you cannot possibly find simply by living your own life.
Beyond all else, that is what Stand-To has given me. This program was not just about meeting speakers on leadership or becoming empowered to make a difference in my community. It was about understanding the value of choosing the challenge over rest and hard work over what would be easy. It’s about purposeful, bold, kind living. It’s about seeing and knowing the right thing.
It’s about having the courage in our private and public lives to stand-to and lead.
Amy Bushatz is the Executive Editor of Military.com and a subject matter expert on military and veteran family benefits.
Through her participation in Stand-To, Amy is working to develop the nonprofit Remedy Alpine, which seeks to decrease isolation among Alaska's veterans through outdoor experiences focused on training and peer connections.Full Bio
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