Shortly after Walker H., a Captain in the US Marine Corps, was accepted into the SLG Fellows Program, his superiors informed him that he would be involuntarily medically discharged from the Marine Corps. Due to the nature of the process, no one could tell him how long the process would take, so he had no idea how long he had before he would no longer have a job. As many might do, he frantically began researching and networking to figure out what was next, spending only dinner with his new wife.
He decided to follow through on his commitment to the SLG Fellows Program, knowing he would still need leadership development in this next chapter of his life. What he got, however, was beyond what he could have ever imagined! When asked in his initial interview what his ideal mentor would be like, he specifically asked for someone very dissimilar to himself. Here is how he described his relationship with his mentor:
“I got exactly what I asked for. I asked for someone radically different from me because I wanted someone to challenge me. Loralei was an incredible gift. She was able to ask me questions I was unprepared for, forcing me to pause at a time in my life where my natural tendency was to go faster, not slow down.”
The combination of slowing down while surrounded by a support network asking hard questions changed everything.
“With the condensed timeline of being discharged from the Marine Corps, I began trying to sprint a marathon, and the first thing that took a hit was my relationships, both at work and home. Having these moments of intervention each week to focus on what is most important, and talking about why it is most important, allowed me to make the mental shift I needed to manage this process.
I realized that up to this point in my life, I had developed my leadership by emulating great leaders. This emulation has gotten me to about 70 percent of my leadership capacity, but when times get tough, I would say I dropped to 40 or 50 percent. SLG helped me break down what made those leaders great; their character. I now have a set of principles to guide my leadership and give me something to fall back on when things get tough. I now feel like I can stretch beyond 70 percent capacity and maintain it even when things get tough because I have virtues guiding my behavior and a support system for accountability.”
And the results?
“Loralei pointed out toward the end of the program that when we first met, my entire focus was on myself and my plan for surviving this chapter in my life. Now I speak from the collective; When I talk about my personal life, I talk about myself and my wife, and when I talk about my work, it is about myself and my team. That was the lightbulb moment for me. Leadership is explicitly against being an individual. SLG has equipped me by helping me shift my mindset and giving me the tools to be a better husband and a more patient coworker as I walk through this tumultuous experience.
Since the conclusion of the Fellows Program, I have stepped into an even higher position at work, and it is scary and, honestly, sometimes I don't want to do it. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that I am building a team of folks who will do a good job at a pivotal moment in our school’s history where we need to change to align with where the Marine Corps is headed.”