Alphabet Aerobics: My Leadership Philosophy

“Artificial amateurs aren’t at all amazing. Analytically, I assault, animate things…” In this episode, I share my recent conversation with members of the Sigma Iota Epsilon chapter from the Air Force Institute of Technology, commonly known as AFIT. I open with my leadership philosophy known as Alphabet Aerobics, explain why this is different from my personal philosophy, and have some Q&A time with the audience of rising company grade officers. 

For further explanation of my leadership philosophy, check out Episode 7 here:

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“Alphabet Aerobics”


  • Own your team position – In the Air Force you are assigned two positions: your functional role within the unit and the rank you wear within the service. You need to understand and fulfill your duties against both. If you don’t, the overall team will suffer until you perform both positions to the level expected of you.
  • True respect is earned – Customs and courtesies have a valid place and are important in the profession of arms. However, this doesn’t give you the right to treat people like they are “below” you, because they aren’t. By earning the respect of your teammates, you will unlock efficiencies across the board. 
  • Feedback is a two-way conversation – Giving and receiving honest feedback can be a difficult challenge, but you need to get over that fear. Drawing attention to both exceptional performance and areas for improvement will increase your credibility as a leader that truly cares for their teammates. 


  • Personal + Professional = YOU – We are all multi-dimensional people that bring diverse talents and experiences to the team. Work to seamlessly integrate the roles you value within your life so you don’t have to compromise anything.
  • Hard Work > Talent – You have it wrong if you think you have nothing left to learn. Become the “infinite student” that remains critically curious and is willing to put in the work that is required to advance the team together. 
  • More Compassion, Less Comparison – Don’t aim to “win” every conversation. Seek to understand each other. You’ll find you have more common ground than you think, and that shared understanding can be a catalyst to success on both sides.


  • Actions speak louder than words – Surrounding yourself with inspirational quotes and motivational images only goes so far. If you don’t put your energy into action, you are wasting your time.
  • It’s ok to make mistakes…it’s not ok to half-ass – No one is perfect, but when leading boldly there is a difference between putting an honest effort forward and a half-hearted attempt. Allow others and yourself the space to make mistakes that can be recovered from so you have no regrets. 
  • Be the best you – Role models are great sources of inspiration, but seek to carve your own path. Bringing your unique energy to the team is the best source of genuine leadership.

#DBAA (Don’t Be An Asshole)

  • You were raised better than that – The behaviors of kindness and respect for one another and our environment we learned as children still apply today. Do the right thing.
  • Trust is the key to teamwork – Earning trust is equivalent to earning respect for another. Once the trust is in place, you can free yourself to focus on your assigned job and contribute to delivering the best team performance possible.

Positive Energy Activates Constant Elevation (P.E.A.C.E) – A laugh can quickly reduce the negativity of an overwhelming situation. The work ahead of you isn’t going away, so you might as well make the best of the situation and bring everyone together with a smile.

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