Dear Future Me: A Reflection on My Experience at SVA’s Leadership Institute by Jai Anasazi
Dear Future Jai,
As you continue to explore what type of leader you will be in the executive world-wide economy, take pause and reflect on the you that is writing this letter. You were an outstanding NCO in the Army, you used many of those skills as a chapter leader of the Student Veteran Association at the University of Colorado (CU). Yet, you didn’t know how to quantify those skills until you spent four long days and nights in Washington D.C. You explored you for you
In this moment, I am identifying the five key components that encase your essence as a veteran, citizen and leader. You may have shifted these components into something more relevant to the you today, but this is the you in the Fall of 2018. You are passionate, compassionate, enthusiastic, outspoken and innovative. This is who you know yourself to be, but it is not your brand. The associative matrix of what someone associates upon hearing your name is this: You want to be seen by the characteristics of being a man who is sought after for his mastery of being – results-driven, influential, structure-influencing and designing, a steward and intelligent
As you read this months, years and decades later, know that your driving values and brand may change as you continue to grow and develop. Take a moment now to pause and reflect: are your core values of innovation, enthusiasm, compassion, passion and outspokenness still relevant? How have these values fostered your different environments?
In this time of writing, you have committed to these words:
To use my talent and experience to be an ethically compassionate and enthusiastic leader of my community and field. Grasping and retaining only the best practices through either innovation or data-proven methods.
This commitment is just words on paper, until made true through action. You have previously been too critical on yourself when your defined plan didn’t go exactly as planned. I am sure as you continue to develop and grow this will be tempered, so when you review this commitment upon graduating from the University of Colorado and again a year after starting in your chosen field, I challenge you to write a follow up letter and reflect.
The 2018 you commits to the following as a way to accomplish your commitment:
Make an effort to live the commitment and to make ethical decisions that only guide you to this goal in the end. Have a drive to capture, develop, practice and live the values and methods identified as best practices, knowing at times you will identify a shortfall and will need to develop a solution. However, you must keep foremost in your mind you’re not alone. Foster an environment around you of the consummate scholar as a student and educator. Develop and maintain a robust web of those whom can support you and those you also support.
If Mulan could stop and think critically about her identity there is no reason you can’t. Disney’s expressive nature captures this internal assessment:
Look at me
I will never pass for a perfect bride
Or a perfect daughter
Can it be I'm not meant to play this part
Now I see
That if I were truly to be myself, I would break my family's heart Who is that girl I see
Staring straight, back at me
Why is my reflection someone I don't know
Somehow I cannot hide
Who I am
Though I've tried
When will my reflection show who I am inside
When will my reflection show who I am inside
The next steps are to maximize every moment, whether that is through relaxation, studying, graduating, or promotion. In work, you must fully commit to your immediate goal placing all other tasks competing for your attention on the sidelines. This is measurable only by the completion of tasks in a reduced stress environment and investing in your own self-care.
You will identify leaders in the field through self-discovery and separate from your veteran identity to make more meaningful connections by March 15, 2019. I challenge you to find a way to have a series of conversations remembering who you seek to become.
You will refuse to settle for just employment upon graduation and demand of yourself an entry to your career. There will be detractors and actions to influence your job; you made an effort and a commitment to yourself to educate yourself in this field. Settle for nothing, demand the best for yourself, and ensure you are happy with where each opportunity will take you.
The soldier inside you would say, “Stop and take a knee, drink water and change your socks.” The student inside you would say, “Pause, breathe and don’t allow self-doubt.” The citizen-leader inside you says, “It is on you to now capture this and continue to reflect.”
However, if as you read this, life has taken you to on a new path the 2018 you didn’t envision, it’s not the end of the world. You are not a failure, but you may need to refocus this letter to be more in line with what you want for yourself.
Are you near where we want to be in life? Or are you further away? What are the MUSTs to get where you want to be and what is required of you to make it there? Or, is this no longer relevant because we made it? First and foremost, remember you have been through a different crucible than your peers, leaders, and those whom look to you for aspiration – and you are loved. I can’t wait to meet you!