Anyone can lead with drive, desire

  • Published
  • By Stacy Loague
  • Chief, 97th Maintenance Operations Division
"As of now, I am in control here in the White House." These infamous words were uttered by previous Secretary of State Alexander Haig, immediately following the news of Gary Hinckley Jr.'s attempted assassination of President Ronald Regan on March 30, 1981. A retired Air Force general, and former chief of staff to President Richard Nixon, Secretary Haig never hesitate to call the White House press corps to the situation room when informed of this near-tragic event. He was, of course, constitutionally incorrect to take control and will long be remembered for those ill-fated words. But what about the notion that, at a time of nervous uncertainty in the country, he was willing to step forward and take control just to reassure everyone? This was as second nature to him as getting out of bed in the morning. We practice reacting to situations and taking leadership roles from a very early age, whether we aspire to lead a family or lead a nation.
You don't need to be the secretary of state, a retired general or senior statesman to be a leader. You too can lead. It may take some special training, many different opportunities and much education to become the secretary of state, but on a lower scale, each of us displays leadership every day when making important decisions affecting loved ones, friends, co-workers or subordinates. We teach and learn as parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, class leaders, employees, supervisors, teachers, firefighters, police and even grandparents. Not a day goes by that you aren't faced with important decisions impacting others. It's how we react to those decisions that determines how we can aspire to become more than leaders of our families, but as leaders of higher calling, like the secretary of state.

Think about how many times as a child someone helped you get ready for the day, and now you may be preparing or assisting a child for school, while still cooking meals, going to work, and managing time for shopping, paying bills, mowing the lawn, working on the car and running errands. This is done by millions of young adults and parents every day. They make decisions impacting the lives of their children and many others around them. Adults lead their family. Teachers lead their students. Spiritual leaders lead their congregations. Firefighters and police lead their units. Ballplayers lead their team, and Airman lead other Airman. You all lead, just in different capacities at different times throughout your lives. All you need to do is recognize that fact and have confidence in your ability. How many men and women from all walks of life, without aspiring to, end up leading others in the defense of our country?

An example of someone thrust into a leadership role is the Navajo code talkers from World War II. Of the 29 original Navajo code talkers, only one remains alive today. These original code talkers, and hundreds of others who followed in their footsteps, are leaders in their own right. They only wanted to serve their country. They had a special talent known only to the United States and served as Marines saving thousands of U.S. service members in combat during the war. They never asked to be leaders, but they were able to use their native language as a discipline of leadership. Because of their special talent, the code talkers became the natural communication of leaders on the battlefield.

Leaders come from all walks of life - military schools, small towns and large cities. They all have one common theme - they aspire to do the best they can at whatever is thrown at them. Anyone can lead, but the level of leadership is controlled only by your determination and desire to succeed.