Inspire someone

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. -- Welcome back!! I'm thrilled to report that everyone in Team AEDC (minus a few deer) is safely back in the saddle following our Thanksgiving holiday.

Trust me, this is no accident, and I applaud everyone's efforts in making this happen. I've been in too many organizations when this wasn't the case, and it's tragic.

I'll never forget my freshman year at the Air Force Academy ... four Cadets died in car accidents that week. For the families, it was indescribable. For the school, it was demoralizing.

As the Commander, I have one more thing to be thankful for. In the last edition, I challenged us all to take a slightly different perspective on Thanksgiving this year, and hopefully, in the time you spent reflecting on "who is on your list" you remembered someone particularly important.

Why did someone stand out? I have an idea. Maybe it's because they inspired you. Maybe they provided the "kick in the pants" you didn't know you needed. Or maybe they helped you see something in yourself you didn't know was there.

In short, they made a difference in your life. Wasn't that amazing? So my new challenge is simple. Be that person for someone else.

My list of "someones" is undeservedly long. To say "my cup runneth over" is the understatement of the century. But they all had one thing in common. They cared, and I knew it.

I mean I KNEW it. When someone truly cares about you, it's transformational, and probably the singularly distinctive trait that separates good (and not so good!) and great leaders.

I've taken countless courses and read dozens of books on "leadership" and the literature is bulging with clever phrases like "situational leadership" and "leadership by example."

Very useful, even thought provoking, and some of them practical. But here's one that doesn't get enough press in our increasingly metric-laden meetings.

Leaders inspire. But you can't inspire anyone if they don't believe you care. But when they do, you have the power to unleash the talent.

You don't have to be in a formal leadership position to show someone you care. I love this quote... "everyone is a leader ... some are leading others astray."

What's the point?

The point is you can inspire someone without being their boss, and whether you know it or not, everything about you is on display 24-7.

Through your actions, you choose how you influence or impact the lives of those around you. You can choose to make that impact a positive one. If you are a movie buff, you might recall the film "Pay it Forward." If you are into commercials, who can forget "I want to be like Mike!"

So, it boils down like this. We all have a gift. Share it. We all know someone who could use a hand. Give them one. And when it comes to living our lives in the fishbowl, be the one that someone else wants to emulate.

Start by caring, and show someone that you care. Do this, and you will be an "inspirational leader" to someone, and for that, they will be forever grateful.

With the holiday season in full swing, I know we're all in the churn juggling work, family, shopping, and bouncing from event to event. But through it all, take a minute to think about a gift someone will cherish for a lifetime.

You won't have to fight the crowds, and you don't need to keep a receipt. And most of all, this is a gift that keeps on giving. It doesn't cost ... it pays. Inspire someone. Get on their list, and this will be a truly great holiday season.

For me, that "someone" was "Pat," and I'd like to share how he made a difference in my life, and maybe I'll convince you to take last week's reflection one step further.

You see, Pat was not just a dear friend, a mentor, or a father figure to me. He was all of that and so much more. He was truly an inspiration.

In this role, he became, and remains, an amazing force in my life. Though he passed away years ago, he's with me every day. Even if I wanted to, I just can't seem to make a decision, execute a plan, or sift through choices without the outcome passing the "Pat test."

To say I'm thankful for his influence is the understatement of the century.