The Leading Edge: The Capacity to Lead Beyond the Military
One morning you wake up and you are a member of the U.S. Armed Forces. You have your entire life ahead of you and yet, you just stepped into the world where limits overlap no limits. That was my world for over 23 years and I loved it. I loved the travel, the diversity of assignments, the versatility of the people, and of course the benefits and promotions that come with successful leadership. I served this wonderful country longer than my plan on day one, and I experienced leadership at a higher level of love than I could have ever imagined. However, it was only when I retired and awakened to the rest of my life that I fully understood the beauty of self-awareness.
Serving and leading other service members and civilians throughout my military career came with great personal reward and satisfaction. Yet after retiring, I realized that most service members and civilians are not aware, and do not recognize, the mental and physical effect of a service member’s life without military obligations.
While in uniform we are invincible. There is nothing that we cannot do, and nowhere that we are not willing to go. We rise early and push our physical body to its limit. Even when faced with physical limitations, to include loss of limb, the resiliency of being on a winning TEAM drives service members from all walks of life to continue to serve. So what happens upon separation or retirement?
Although I still go to the gym regularly, I found myself experiencing the effects of sciatica and a degenerative disk in my back that 30 years of basketball and more than 23 years of serving in the U.S. Army had never been affected by. Although I continue to train, run, and engage in leadership professionally and as a volunteer, I truly did not understand the mental and physical impacts of living a limitless existence until engaging with a women’s veteran organization. It was truly eye-opening to see such vibrant, mentally and physically limitless women who are now challenged with homelessness, unemployment, depression and other mentally incapacitating situations.
And then it hit me.
We come into the military straight from our parents’ home, high school or college. We have never had to tell ourselves what to do beyond obedience. We raise our hand, swear in, and are told what to do, where to do it, how long to do it, what to wear, and who to team up with for years. Then one day we wake up and ‘Self’ has to lead. Although Self has been there the entire time, most have never met Self or held a conversation with Self, and now we have to trust Self. Physically, our body could never say no without injury or legal consequences, and now it has no obligation to do anything other than what we choose.
“Most people must be shown the way forward to develop a greater self-awareness.”
John C. Maxwell
Mentally we accepted the call to serve, physically we rose to the challenge, and then one day, it all went away. The physical body transitions and longs for activity, while Self transitions and longs for direction. Those who do not tap into the initiative traits that stay within are the ones who fail to recognize the limitless possibilities of post-military life.
Having the opportunity to share the valuable leadership attributes from being on the John Maxwell Team is priceless. Equipping veterans before they separate or retire with self-awareness skills is keeping women and their children housed and future employment and entrepreneurship opportunities available and possible. A separated or retired U.S. military member’s capacity has no boundaries unless we chose to limit ourselves. Therefore, anyone reading this article that may have served in the military should always remember that the greatest gift that we have is our ability to unconditionally value others above ourselves.
The ability to take and keep the limits off of our post-military existence is sustained by:
- Lifting up the quality military training received as relevant
- Overcoming uncertainty by empowering Self to lead
- Valuing the endless possibilities of post-military life
- Evolving beyond yesterday by welcoming and connecting with a new TEAM
Veterans are the most versatile people on the planet. Although once limited by laws and mission requirements, we have no limits associated with our capacity to produce right results. As a member of the John Maxwell Team, I can testify that this is a safe place to connect. Partner your proven military skills with a new winning TEAM.
Sharon is a retired U.S. Army veteran, entrepreneur, author, and minister with over 28 years of leadership and financial management experience. She is a leadership expert, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Alethes Consulting Group, LLC, providing leadership coaching, speaking and training to corporate executives, non-profit organizations, and people. She is a certified John Maxwell coach, teacher, and speaker, having trained internationally with John in Guatemala and Paraguay. Sharon is also the host of the Rose of Sharon Radio Show on the Survival Radio Christian Network.
Sharon is a strong, multi-faceted international leader who continues to serve and inspire others professionally and spiritually to become leaders who impact their environments and communities with strategic vision that equips and transforms. She is the Chaplain for Women Veterans Interactive, supporting veteran women through advocacy, empowerment, interaction, outreach and unification; as well as a member other veteran and professional business organizations. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.