Guest Blogger: Yolanda Gray on Memorable Leadership Moments

August 17th, 2017

YolandaHS-3When I was 43 years old, I began a new career that required me to attend a paramilitary academy for six weeks. Isolated from family and friends, with structure so tight, there was no room or time to do anything except take marching orders. We were tested every day emotionally, physically, and mentally.

I was up at 4:30 a.m. and got into gym clothes and over to the gym, the track, or wherever maneuvers were happening that day. After physical training, we’d go back to the dorm, shower and get dressed, making sure the boots were spit-shined, clothes pressed. We couldn’t wear make-up or nail polish.

Then we would head over to the chow line before the drills and classroom lessons began for the day. A typical day ended at 8:00 p.m. or 9:00 p.m. and the next day was just like the day before. It was difficult enough for me to discipline myself to be at attention and ready every morning according to the high standards.

But, when I was chosen to be a squad leader, life inside the compound took on a whole new dimension. Now, I was also responsible for making sure that the recruits in my squad were also up and at attention for inspection at roll call. I did not want this responsibility and I worried that I wouldn’t be respected enough for them to follow me. Besides, I didn’t want to be the one charting the course.

I began to engage with my squad members, hanging out with them at chow, during breaks. I led by example working harder than I would have had I only been out there on my own, responsible only for my actions and outcomes.

Classroom studies were rigorous and challenging. So, we all would meet to help each other making sure the material was understood and that we could pass the exams.

As part of a larger unit, I learned from the younger squad leaders. Some of them had military experience including how to march in cadence. That way when I was in front leading my squad I would not take them off course.

After a while, I began to care for all of the men and women in my squad, praying for them, encouraging them, and I worked to set the tone for the day (shiny boots), pushing hard during physical training. I won the ribbon for the fastest female runner with my squad out there on the track cheering me on.

We all came together as a strong, solid unit and went on to win first prize for the best company in the entire academy!

In my work today, I chart courses for the women who are seeking a higher life. I lead them through the challenges and hardships that arise anytime one seeks to change and improve their conditions. They see me as an example of one who has done the hard work to be free from the pain of overwhelm and chaotic thinking. I care about them enough to lead them out.

Yolanda Gray works with women to show them how to take the journey inside to get out of overwhelm, stress and chaotic thinking and destructive habits and take control of their lives with a fresh perspective on what matters most– living life “out loud”—authentically and confidently in all that God created them for. With a B.S. in Human Development, an M. A. in Human Relations, and certification as a holistic life coach, Yolanda transforms women’s lives through interactive workshops, seminars, and personal coaching. Check out her upcoming event at Find out more about her at

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