Meet Guest Blogger: Yolanda Gray
Meet Guest Blogger: Yolanda Gray
If anyone would have said, “Ask Yolanda, she’s a “natural-born” leader.”Well, never mind. That would never happen. I always did my best to maintain a low profile by ducking out of the way when a search for leadership was underway. From kindergarten to adulthood, I tried my best to hide.
I did not understand at the time that uncovering leadership qualities and developing the talents required an environment for the process. I never “felt” like a leader. I also did not understand that leadership is an influence in its purest form. I never “felt” like I qualified.
Staying in the background and helping the real leaders to shine gave me satisfaction. I always worked for the higher-ranked. I had taken on roles as a leader in small committees or projects.
When I was 43 years old, I began a new career. And, I learned about the power of influence, the challenge of leadership, and the fulfillment of a job well done. But first, I would be tested beyond my own inner strength.
I lived in a paramilitary environment for six weeks. Isolated from family and friends, with structure so tight, taking marching orders from harsh, unrelenting commanders. Those of us underlings 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 would go back to the dorm, shower and get dressed, making sure the boots were spit-shined and that the clothes were pressed. We could not 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.
I had never experienced such an existence. The grueling discipline to maintain the schedule and achieve the expected high standards tested me.
Then I was chosen to be a squad leader of a company (platoon). 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 volunteer for this responsibility. I worried that I could not gain the squad’s respect to influence their motivation and actions.
Besides, I did not want to be the one charting the course! I don’t know how to do this work! A good leader seeks assistance from those who effectively lead. I sought out the squad leaders within my company and asked for assistance. (They spent many hours teaching me how to march in cadence). And they were much younger than me!
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 study together so that when we passed our exams we all passed!
After a while, I began to care for all of the men and women in my squad by praying for them, encouraging them, and I worked to set the tone for the day (shiny boots) and pushing hard during physical training. I won first place for the fastest female runner because my entire company came out to cheer me on all around the course!
We all came together as a strong, solid unit and went on to win first prize for the best company in the entire academy!
Stepping up to the challenge, seeking help, and being one amongst the many taught me about true leadership. It’s not easy, but ultimately rewarding!
In my work today, I chart courses for the women who are seeking God’s promised higher life. As a speaker, I work to influence by sharing my story of overcoming adversity and addiction. I lead them through the challenges and hardships that come when we begin to change our perspectives. I am the example of one who has done the hard work (reluctantly at times) for the freedom of authentic and confident living. They know I care: the most important quality of a true leader.
Yolanda Gray is a faith-based mentor, speaker and author of abundant living for entrepreneurial and professional women who feel trapped on the hamster wheel that has become their life. She shows you how to get out of the stress and overwhelm and Take Back Your Life! for the one God created you for—authentically and confidently.
She uses her education, life experience, and Biblical principles in coaching, teaching and speaking with Jesus’ love, the Holy Spirit’s energy and wisdom, and God’s power. Most importantly, she leads you to living life loved. Because when you know God’s love everything changes and anything is possible.
Yolanda earned a B.S. in Human Development, an M.A. in Human Relations from Liberty University and certified as a holistic life coach.
You can join her free Facebook Group #takebackyourlife!