Congrats to the Class of 2020—Go Jayla!

Grad 2020

(Image by Annalise Batista from Pixabay)

“Follow your fear”.

(Tina Fey)

We are halfway through 2020 and the ebb and flows of the year have been tremendous.  Most people I know came into 2020 with major goals, plans, and the right mindset to make positive things happen.  We continue to move forward but the COVID-19 pandemic has adjusted how we Walk into the Future daily.

Looking forward to getting back to things that resemble normal life but do not know if/when that will be possible.  The term new normal is being thrown around and means we must redefine what is considered normal in the future.

One thing that does not require a new normal is how proud I am of my niece, Jayla Williams!  We have been on a special journey for the past 24 years and I am excited to see her next money moves in the future.

The COVID-19 pandemic reshaped a large portion of planned activities for everyone but one area we had to put on hold was celebrating Jayla’s graduation from the University of Central Florida.  Family and friends have reached out to congratulate her for this phenomenal feat, but we have not been able to gather the crew and throw the blowout party this accomplishment deserves.  No worries Jayla, we will get it in when safe! 😊

My joy for Jayla’s graduation is because we first talked about going to college when she was 5 years old.  Some may think this is a bit young, but my goal was to create a mindset where we knew the direction of the journey.  Please note, all the work, time and effort were put in by Jayla and it was a joy for me to watch her tick off objectives towards this goal.  My role simply was support, reinforcement, someone to bounce ideas off, and a silly uncle joke when needed.

It is amazing to look back on this journey and see the adult she has become.  I am sure this progression is nothing new for parents to view but for the cool uncle this has been an awesome ride!

The University of Central Florida conducted virtual graduation ceremonies for each college.  The College of Business hosted the largest number of graduates which ensured we would be glued to our computers until they got to the great Williams last name. Did not realize how excited I would be sitting on my laptop waiting to officially hear Jayla Williams being declared an Integrated Business graduate from the University of Central Florida College of Business.  Luckily, I had the foresight to get my phone ready for the quick photo opportunity provided while hearing Jayla’s name.  This put a huge smile on my face, and I texted the photo to family so they could share in my joy!

Looking forward to when we can get back together to throw the big blowout party she was expecting and deserves.  That day is coming, and we will celebrate the 24 years and counting for the journey we are on.  Cannot wait to see what the future holds for my class of 2020 graduate—big things I am sure!

Congratulations and Go Jayla! 😊

Uncle Calvin

 “Fall forward.  Every failed experiment is one step closer to success.  You have got to take risks”.

(Denzel Washington)

 

Where do leaders come from?

Leadership image

(Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay)

“I’m a leader not a follower.  Unless it’s a dark place, then you are going first”.

(Unknown)

Got invited back down to Orlando in October for my recurring speaking role on the Intern Whisperer podcast.

Season 2, Episode 92 featured me discussing all things leadership to include earliest memories of venturing into leadership roles.

The quote above makes me laugh because I know people who perform in their leadership role in a similar manner.  No worries when things are going well but no support, help or empathy when things get tough.  These so-called leaders also seek the spotlight in good times and hide out during the bad.

Back to the podcast and why I’m discussing leadership in this blog post.  The students who produce the Intern Whisperer podcast are extremely sharp and asked great questions from start to finish.  One question that really stood out to me was, “What was your earliest memory of taking on a leadership role and how did it make you feel”?

Seems like a straightforward question but I had to think about it for a bit.  I have always been an athlete and grew up playing multiple sports; football, basketball, baseball and track (high jump).  Never considered being active in sports as leadership, just a way to pass the time and hang out with friends.  Yes, I know leadership and teamwork are integral in a team environment, but I was just having fun during this time frame.  My interviewers seemed to think my sports background would have been where my leadership foundation started.

My earliest memory of taking on an active leadership role and embracing everything involved was when I became a Master Instructor at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi (Biloxi).

I served at multiple Air Force installations as a Personnel Systems Manager (HR Data Analyst) and got an opportunity to train analysts Air Force wide based on my work performance and knowledge.  So, I went for writing computer code for one Air Force base to training every data analyst in my career field—worldwide.  Pretty heady stuff for someone from Jasper, Florida!

This role stands out as my earliest leadership memory because I had to expand my personal and professional goals and understand the importance of ensuring my students got a world class education.  Everything they needed to be successful in the career field came directly from me.  I couldn’t have a bad day in class because my lack of preparation, patience or knowledge would hinder their abilities to perform; in class and when they returned to their respective organizations around the world.

I went from being responsible for myself to leading a group of 25 students on a six-week educational journey.  We routinely graduated 10 classes every fiscal year—I spent 4 years as an Air Force instructor at Keesler Air Force Base before moving back into my career field at Kadena Air Base, Japan (Okinawa).

The Air Force Technical School environment is the incubator that taught me leaders must be able to adjust leadership style, inspirational tactics and provide tough love when needed.  The students needed different things to successfully complete our course.  My ability to lead was needed daily.

It was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done but it laid the foundation for my current leadership and life philosophy:  Make a difference daily!

Leadership article

(Instructor of the Year Presentation)

What are your earliest leadership memories?  How do these memories impact you today? (Respond in the comments section—thanks!) 

Thanks for walking with me!

“Be a LEADER, not a boss”.

(Calvin Williams)