Each of us has power to be happy, serve

  • Published
  • By David Sutherland
  • ARPC Chief, Analysis and Data Management Division, Reserve of
I am an excellent and exceptional person.

"This mantra is how Joe Gilliam, a motivational speaker, starts his presentation at the National Guard Diversity Conference. He teaches his daily mantra and challenges us to take it up. We have to repeat it many times during the morning. 

Mr. Gilliam is an "attack" speaker. He alternates styles, f rom screaming to seeming whispers, from running around in animated fashion all over the stage to standing stoically reciting poetry. He even walks into the audience demanding attention and asking why we aren't taking notes. This presentation is not a spectator sport.

He trains us with the mantra and teaches us to respond "yes" in his "southern boy" style which comes out something like "yeah-aaassss." He then clarifies his expectation of us, who he calls his team. We are here to pay attention and learn. And he declares his intent to hold us accountable. 

In laying ground rules for his presentation, Mr. Gilliam treated us like a good supervisor treats his employees. When he asked how many of us treat our employees that way, less than half the hands go up. Next he asked how many of us are treated that way by our supervisors. Very few hands stay up. 

The audience was about 200 folks from the National Guard, mostly Army National Guard diversity officers and equal opportunity folks. About 20 percent were from the Air National Guard and 22 are general officers. Gretta Bur roughs f rom DPQ and I represented the Air Force Reserve. 

Mr. Gilliam boldly stated that we were trying to decide whether we like him and then he declared that he didn't care whether we liked him at all since he likes himself perfectly well. 

Mr. Gilliam gave us plenty to think about. One point is his description of the "pit" of negativity, depression and cynicism. There are three ways to fall into the pit: jump in, accidentally fall in or be pulled in. It's difficult to avoid being pulled in when we are trying to help someone out, but the best thing we can do is recognize that someone in the pit has to get themselves out. 

Once I heard about the pit I figure that he must've worked at ARPC. Then I really wondered because he later stated that we don't have control of the events in our lives. That sounds like my job. But then he answers that we do have control of our reactions. With examples and anecdotes from his own life he teaches that such control is manifested by four powers that we all have, but might seldom use. We have the power to choose. Specifically, we have the power to choose our own thoughts. We also have the power to attend. Power to attend is the ultimate control of our behavior. How many of us are here but not really attending? We have the power to serve. This is the service that we freely give from our hearts. 

We have the power to serve our customers - not just do our job. And we have the power to be happy. 

Are you happy? You do have the power. Do you hold yourself accountable? Are you in the pit? I've been there. 

I would love to have Joe Gilliam do his weeklong seminar for ARPC. I have a list of people that really need to attend, and I put myself at the top even if I am "an excellent and exceptional person."