January 11, 2022
by Brittany Lake
Have you ever realized that it only takes one?
One opportunity to change your life. One decision to shift the direction in which you’re going. One moment to say yes or no. One person that will forever have an impact on your life.
As a young military officer, I’ve not always had the level of mentorship and leadership I expected when I initially entered the Army. The ones that were supposed to mold me and teach me at times left me behind, turned their backs on me, and failed me.
I am not saying that no one’s ever been there; I’ve worked with some amazing leaders that have pushed and encouraged me to be my best.
But I went through a period where I felt betrayed, depressed, scared, hurt, confused, and just downright broken. I wanted to give up on my career and the military because of some the people around me. Their behaviors were often damaging to others and encouraged emulating, not to use it loosely, toxic leadership.
I thought there was no way that I could continue in the military, but then I met “That One Person!”
I recently went on my first out-of-state mission and was the Officer In Charge (OIC) of a three person team. We were to link up with a more senior group outside our normal chain of command. This was unique for me, and I didn’t know what to expect.
Amazingly, before I was even on the ground, the senior officer of the mission called just to say hi and give me a heads up on my responsibilities. It seemed like a simple gesture, but I immediately felt like part of the team.
Once on the ground, I was given tasks and trusted to accomplish them with no oversight but still was provided guidance, advice, and mentorship. I had a sense of pride and respect because I was trusted, and my suggestions were continuously being taken into consideration.
Even as a junior officer, I was considered an equal part of the team and was not put down or laughed at for things that I said. I felt this sense of accomplishment and value all because of “That One Person!”
I thought long and hard about why he was different.
To begin, he was one of the most enthusiastic leaders that I have ever come across. He was motivating, intelligent, supportive, hospitable, and always willing to share knowledge. The mentorship that he provided, the feedback that he gave after briefs or conversations, and his everyday spirit that kept the team going far exceeded any previous leadership I’ve seen.
I had no idea that leaders like him existed. He was a leader with such a positive mindset and outlook on the Army. He allowed everyone to be a unique individual and encouraged the team to learn individually and collectively and become the best version of themselves.
He talked about “leadership as a drug” and it being the “best drug you can ever take.” He’s fueled by the impact he makes on other people’s lives and not his own personal accolades. Coming across a leader like this is rewarding because he builds up individuals and strengthens teams.
My path was completely altered by this one encounter.
Leaders, no matter what profession, do not always realize the impact that they have on someone’s life, whether that impact is positive or negative. I imagine many of my negative leaders had no idea the terrible impact they had on me. I also imagine many of my great leaders do not know the positive impact they have on me.
As I continue to grow and learn what kind of leader I wish to be, I take interactions with people like him to heart.
I want to be that daughter, sister, niece, friend, aunt, girlfriend, co-worker, and leader in my family, military, and community that understands the impact I’ll have on someone else’s life. I want to lead by example, set high standards, be successful, encourage others, and have a positive impact.
I want to be “That One Person.”
It only takes one person to change a life, one person to trust and encourage you, one person to meet you at the door, and one person to care.
I will be “That One Person” to someone else.
I challenge you to be “That One Person” as well.
Brittany Lake is a logistics officer with six years-experience in the United States Army. She was born and raised in Waterflow, New Mexico and is a graduate of both the New Mexico Military Institute with an associate’s degree in General Education and Norwich University with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She will be attending the Captains Career Course in 2023 to further her military career at Fort Lee, VA and is working towards her master’s degree in Teaching Early Childhood Education. She enjoys being involved in monthly 5K runs with her community and plans to complete her second half marathon this year. Her hobbies include spending time with her family and two cats, riding dirt bikes, traveling, and enjoying the outdoors.
The views of the author are her personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Army
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