Resilient leadership

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- There is no cookie cutter approach or silver bullet slide presentation that will give you everything you need to know to be successful in life. Likewise, the definition of success is different from one person to the next. My path to success is a continuous process; however, I firmly believe resiliency has been a key factor in my life.

Whether you enjoy reading, spending time with family, or running a marathon, find what inspires you. Inspiration provides the ability to refresh, regroup and realize your passion. My inspiration comes in the form of daily "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" calendar quotes and listening to blues music while cooking. If you struggle to find inspiration, align yourself to meet new people, talk to someone you trust and ask for help. When I know I am at risk of a burnout feeling, I take a day of leave to refresh. I call this break my "mental health day." I get in a good workout, a massage and take one of my children out for some one-on-one time. I'm definitely a better leader, wife and mother because of it. Make your daily resiliency strategy to find your inspiration. Discover new energy and share it to inspire others around you.

A positive attitude is also critical to becoming a resilient leader. I recently faced personal challenges due to our military lifestyle. My family is currently separated and I have assumed a geographically single parent role for the last two years. Additionally, I contracted a severe eye infection causing permanent vision loss, recoverable only by a future corneal transplant ... all while studying for promotion. All these stressors caused me to feel sorry for myself, lose focus on my goals and question my abilities and my strength. Thanks to the support of my family and friends, I was able to use humor to overcome these obstacles, smile and focus on the great things in my life. To my son's delight, we celebrated "International Talk Like a Pirate Day," sporting my eye patch. I even used the "fake it until you make it" approach and smiled when I wanted to give up. Surviving through this adversity, I now believe the only thing I cannot do proficiently is my own eye makeup.

It is inevitable that you will be faced with adversity in life, but remember one thing ... your attitude will determine your outcome. Do not lose faith, you will make mistakes and lose sleep over decisions you have to make that affect our mission, our Airmen or our families. Winston Churchill said it best, "Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm." The challenges we face are free leadership training opportunities. Turn challenges into opportunities to learn about yourself, your Airmen and your team's capabilities. Whether your adversity is personal or professional, your attitude will determine your success.

As you shape your path to success, allow yourself to be inspired and stay positively motivated. This will turn your challenges into opportunities to grow and become a stronger, more resilient leader. In the process of doing so, you never know who you are inspiring to do the same.