Wednesday, July 9, 2008

What Will Your Leadership Legacy Be?

A little Air Force blue...

In my office, I have a quotation framed and positioned on my desk where I can see it every day. It says, “My biggest fear is that I will look back on my life and wonder what I did with it.” Sooner or later, it will be time for all of us to hang up our uniforms and find something else to do. As I look back over my career, I continually wonder if I have done enough—if I have done all that I could to make a difference and be a positive influence on others. I hope I have.

Last year, I was lucky enough to be able to travel with the chief of staff to Balad in Iraq. We visited the hospital there, and one of the many individuals I talked to was an Army lieutenant colonel—a tall, thin, lean, and gaunt man with dark circles under his eyes. He was very tired! He was a battalion commander who had been in the country for 11 months and was visiting one of his wounded troops. After chatting for a few minutes, I backed away from him to the other side of the tent, and people began to flow between us. As I stood there watching him, I said to myself, “You know, Lorenz, you’ve been a commander several times in the last 35 years. I just hope you are a good-enough leader to lead someone like that.” You see, you must never, ever stop trying to be the best leader you can be.

Lt Gen Stephen R. Lorenz, United States Air Force, commander of Air University, Maxwell AFB, Alabama.

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