July 16, 2017
My Dearest Leaders,
I cannot express how deeply saddened I am to see you all go over the next few months. I should be accustomed to it by now, I work for the Navy after all and it is par for the course. During my 6 years at NCDOC, I have served with 3 Commanding Officers, 4 Executive Officers, 4-5 Senior Enlisted Leaders/Master Chiefs, and 1 Technical Director. It is uncommon for me since my background is mostly health care, and although that field also has a high turnover rate, it is typically at the rank-and-file levels than the executive leadership level. This leadership team has been the first that I have connected with since I have been here, and so this transition is personal.
I know that we will be celebrating our team, our milestones, and our accomplishments during the Change of Command in just a few weeks, and that will be a true celebration. I write this letter because I want to express my gratitude and share how your leadership has influenced and changed me. I have learned so much from each of you over the last couple years, and truly dread the dates that are fast approaching (note, I began writing this letter in May).
Being An Ideal Teammate
I played sports in high school and still love to compete on teams in my CrossFit world, so I knew what it meant to be on a good team (and many bad teams). Embracing a true team mentality in the workplace was not that far of a conceptual stretch. However, learning how to be an ideal teammate has been the real learning opportunity and challenge. I consider myself a pretty good employee, but being a good teammate raises one’s roles and responsibilities to a different level – a level that I had not fully embraced during my previous time at NCDOC. I have since with your guidance, mentorship, and your example. It hasn’t always been easy, in fact, we have shared some of our failures and how exhausting it can be. I know I don’t always get it and my frustrations are sometimes less than ideal. But I am committed to continue trying, and I remain committed to the team. I will do my part as best I can as we move forward with new leadership.
I once had a professor who shared his grading philosophy with me because I went to him about an exam grade. During our conversation, he told me, “I expected more from your answers compared to your other classmates.” My immediate reaction was to call out how unfair it was to me and that grading was supposed to be fair! He then asked me, “Why do you want to be measured with the average when you continue to demonstrate more than average work?” His grading philosophy was not about the standard and required grading rubric. He viewed his role as a teacher as one to push students beyond their proven potential. I eventually understood this even though I didn’t appreciate it at the time.
Your leadership brought this same ‘above average’ philosophy. You have pushed me beyond what I thought was capable both in me and the team. I didn’t need you to believe in me or to build my self confidence (even though I know you did). I needed to understand your vision and believe in it. When you shared that and then lifted the lid to see if I would jump, jump I did! It hasn’t only been with me. I’ve seen the positive influences you each have made across our team, starting with your own – the QUAD. It has begun to spread across smaller teams within the larger team. Others have noticed it as well and we can only hope that we continue to raise the bar of the entire team so that we soar above average.
I hope that as each of you move on to lead your next team, you continue lifting lids and providing opportunities for frogs to jump and purple cows to emerge. We are the Purple Cow of the Navy BECAUSE of you! I hope that when you leave, you walk away knowing you made a dent with our team and all of our challenges and the journey has been worth it and meaningful. Below are modified lyrics to one of my favorite songs that best articulate my sentiments:
“You’ve raised us up so we can stand on mountains,
You’ve raised us up to walk on stormy seas,
We are strong when we are on your shoulders,
You’ve raised us up to more than we can be.”
And…Thank you for raising me up to more than I can be.
Rebecca (Dr. Moo)