Angie: A Spark is someone who decides not to accept the hand that they were dealt, the way that things are. They know that their world can be better and they work actively to make it so. We see Sparks all the time in the work that we do. We like to define them, and this is more of an internal Lead Star world, we define them as “the doers” they are the ones that just get stuff done.
Sean: Leadership isn’t about being in charge. Interestingly at Lead Star we ask groups of people, Who do you think are leaders? And, why do you think they are a leader? And no one every says so and so is a leader because they were in charge. Having a title is one of the myths of leadership. Leadership is not about your title, it’s not about authority or positional authority. It’s about your behavior. We lead through our behavior.
Angie: I’ve identified as a leader, pretty much my entire adult life, that’s what my good ole Marine Corps training allowed me to do. Really associate with the term leader from an early age. But if I were to pinpoint when I really started to see my Spark moment, and what that would be able to produce, that was when Courtney and I started our business, Lead Star. Up until that point, I was working in pharmaceutical sales, I had a pretty steady salary, I had you know, a corporate car, I had a holiday bonus, I had a lot of really good steady, stable things going for me. But the moment Courtney and I were tossing around this idea of starting Lead Star and writing Leading from the Front, it was a big risk. So my Spark moment, I really associate with that moment of really having the confidence to quit all this security and stability and say goodbye to that and then start this new venture. That was my Spark moment, the time in my life when I put into play all the skills I had been developing up until that point.
Courtney: I think about my Spark moment, and it really isn’t a moment that was particularly joyful for me. Every single person going through military training hits a wall at some point and in the Marine Corps you spend 10 weeks in Officer Candidate School. I’d say for the first four or five weeks it was tough, it was demanding, yet I was doing okay.
Then somewhere out of nowhere I just pretty much hit a wall. I think it was a day where I was physically exhausted. The sergeant instructors, those powerfully motivating drill instructor personalities, were probably on my case. (Rightfully so since I wasn’t always squared away as an officer candidate.) And then something inside me just started completely doubting myself. Doubting if I was ever going to be able to make it through training. Doubting if I had what it took to be a Marine. Doubting if I was capable of meeting the challenge I had so enthusiastically volunteered to complete. And I just remember it was very, very late at night and I literally just started crying and feeling like what was I doing? Maybe I didn’t have the capability to be successful like the organization was demanding of me? It was just a real bottoming out moment. I really needed to completely hit a wall to realize that I actually had more in the tank than I thought.
The next day I woke up for the 5 am wake up. It was never a beautiful, slow wake up, it was a loud, screaming wake up. But something inside of me was different. I had felt like I wasn’t capable of moving on but now I actually had found something deeper. And so, from that point on, I just knew that I needed to pay attention. I needed to learn. No matter what was thrown my way, I could overcome it and it was just this amazing confidence. So, I look back on that now because there’s been so many challenges in my life since I was a young Marine officer in training. My first kids were twins, I lost my mother at a relatively young age; these were major life experiences, yet because I had had that moment where I truly sparked, where I truly realized there was something inside of me that was capable of overcoming any obstacle, I knew that no matter what challenges were there, I could continue on.
So, my spark moment was a moment where I was so low and thinking that I had nothing more to offer, but also realizing that I was stronger, and I could be a better leader. Anytime things get difficult in life, I’m always reminded to just keep being accountable, keep looking for how can I be better, or how can I serve someone. These moments I just keep re-sparking and getting reinvigorated and getting more focused on what it takes to lead and what it takes to be effective.