It’s All About the Journey

It’s All About the Journey

My biggest takeaways in writing my memoir and three leadership lessons I hope to share. 

I just found out that my book, “Sirens (How to Pee Standing Up): An alarming memoir of combat and coming back home,” is now on Audible. Two years ago I spent hour after hour locked in my closet (for quality sound) reading my memoir for the audio version. As an avid Audible listener, I couldn’t be more excited to finally have it on that platform.

Writing a book, especially a memoir, is like putting your dirty laundry out to dry. People know more about me than I may ever know about them. The thing is, I didn’t even put my whole Iraq story into my memoir. As a leader, former principal, mom, and daughter there are some things better left unpublished. I tend to be an open book, but knowing that absolute strangers will have preconceived notions about me still causes me to pause. 

The purpose of writing my book was to create awareness and bridge the military and civilian divide (I acknowledge, however, that everyone’s story is different), I wanted to spread awareness of what mental health issues look like once soldiers return (again, I don’t speak for all military members), and it was incredibly therapeutic to take my journal entries and put them into a readable format. 

Here are my three biggest takeaways from writing:

  1. Writing a book requires putting aside your ego. My editor was great at what she did. She didn’t sugarcoat anything. Therefore, I became a better writer and grew a thicker skin. I also realized how little I knew about writing a book and even basic grammar. Thanks to Julia for getting me over the hump of publishing my book!
  1. Writing a book is scary. I can’t tell you how many anxieties I felt before it was released. I sacrificed family time, husband time, “me” time, and workout time to get that book done in two years. I was worried it wouldn’t be worth it. Additionally, I worried that I would hurt the individuals I wrote about. My goal was not to hurt anyone, but rather to bear the truth of being deployed. It’s in my nature to be honest and transparent and that is what my book exemplifies.
  1. Writing a book is satisfying. To cross this off my bucket list feels like an incredible feat. If you’re thinking of writing a book, do it. Yes, it’s hard and time-consuming, but the satisfaction is far greater than many of my other accomplishments.

Here are the three leadership lesson from the book I hope you walk away with:

  1. When leaders practice humility, their Team will want to follow: Humility is not thinking less of yourself but instead thinking of yourself less. This sentiment comes from my dear friend Jeff Marquez and one of my favorite shows, Ted Lasso. There are many lessons in my book that outline good humility by leaders and there are many that exemplify the complete opposite. One of the most profound lessons comes from February 6th, 2004 when I had to escort (drive) a bunch of leaders from our brigade to the three most dangerous parts of Baghdad because they wanted to “see some action.” They put my life on the line because they wanted war stories. 
  1. Transparency boosts morale and saves lives. There were so many times on my deployment that I would have felt less anxious if I knew the “why” behind an assignment. Following blindly left me feeling lesser than and at a complete loss of control. Loss of control leads to fear and fear drives people out of your organization. Yes, leadership comes with “need to know” and “nice to know.” Think about what you can share and what will benefit your Team and share it. It will boost morale, buy-in, and create a deeper sense of belonging. If you read the book, you’ll understand how transparency in a war zone saves lives. 
  1. Knowing and understanding your people will take your organization to new heights. Everyone is fighting a battle within. If someone is underperforming, it might not be about the company, the task, or even their competency. They may be suffering from something that is below the surface. The more you know your people the better you can help them. Mental health issues come in a multitude of forms. If you can understand how to empathize and support your people, they will overcome their obstacles faster and they will want to stick with you and your organization. 

I’m curious to know what leadership lessons you learn from the book. Please feel free to share!

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