The Constant Elevation Podcast is for rising leaders who seek to define the future.
Join Gabriel “gaberock” Avilla on his journey through the Air Force, fitness, family, and everything in between
to inspire you to rise to your full potential .
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“If you’re bored with life – you don’t get up every morning with a burning desire to do things – you don’t have enough goals.” In this episode, I reflect on my recent AAPI Leaders Unmuted project, my thoughts upon completing JPME II and returning to work, and some early previews on goals I’m setting for myself as I look towards the horizon. This will be the final episode of season 3 and I look forward to returning with even more content to help us all Constantly Elevate.
“True leaders don’t create more followers, they create more leaders.” In the final episode of AAPI Leaders Unmuted, I welcome 1Lt Keum Lee and TSgt Ferdy Hooper to the show to discuss their drive to lead quality AAPI Heritage Month events. We discuss the differences and similarities in how they planned and executed their AAPI Heritage events across an entire month, integrating off-base agencies to have an even stronger connection with the local community, and finally come up with a new idea to help build future leaders who will even further advance future AAPI Heritage events. It was an honor to talk to both of them and I look forward to working with them in the future.
“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.
“Stay true to yourself because there are very few people who will always be true to you.” In this next episode of AAPI Leaders Unmuted, I talk with Colonel Trish Csank and Lt Col Bryan Wong on “The Disparate Path of AAPI Men and Women.” We talk about our varied experiences in being a solo AAPI or being surrounded by them and how that shaped our perspective, making sure any opportunities earned in our careers came through merit and not because we were the “token” AAPI male or AAPI female, and how neither label will ever be enough to cover the depth and breadth of our individual strengths as leaders who happen to be AAPI.
“Supporting another’s success won’t ever damper yours.” In this next episode of AAPI Leaders Unmuted, I talk with Captain Kevin Cho Tipton and 1Lt Ayana Cole-Fletcher on “Overcoming Interminority Friction.” We talk about their experiences in standing up to their peers who were exhibiting negative behavior between our communities, how AAPI and Black communities can use our common history to build ties instead of seed division, and what drives them to make positive changes between our communities. The Air Force is in good hands with leaders like them who are willing to help us all change for the better.
“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.” In this next episode of AAPI Leaders Unmuted, I talk with Captain Faelisha Yeager and MSgt Ron Esposo on what it means to “Not Be Asian Enough.” We talk about our awkward experiences with interacting with other AAPIs, what are the common catalysts to the feeling of not being enough, and how we can elevate ourselves to stop being so divisive and start being more inclusive amongst our own.
“Focus on sharing your story and affecting the people that are hungry for your light.” In this episode, I welcome back Colonel Trish Csank to kick off Asian American Pacific Islander Leaders Unmuted, a series of conversations to educate and inspire each other on the Asian experience. We discuss the Model Minority Myth, how it is harmful to all minorities, the dark side of trying to live up to unrealistic expectations, and why remaining true to yourself allowing others the same respect can yield optimal team results.
“Words are free. It’s how you use them, that may cost you.” In this episode, I cover my thoughts on the two-sided weapon that has shaped our collective communities: social media. Using social media is inevitable, but how you choose to act yourselves and react to others is something we can control. These thoughts also sparked my next upcoming project, AAPI Leaders Unmuted, which I’m really excited about.
“Don’t practice until you get it right. Practice until you can’t get it wrong. ” In this episode, I discuss the parallels between learning, training, and applying military and fitness skills. If you want to perform your best during real-world operations or game day, you need to put the sweat equity both in the classroom and during practice as well. As the five-time CrossFit Games champion Mat Fraser says, “Hard Work Pays Off.”
“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” In this episode, I cover my approach to another round of Professional Military Education. These phases in a military career can be overwhelming at times and not always what you expect or want, so I provide my thoughts on how to make the most out of these experiences.
“Community means strength that joins our strength to do the work that needs to be done. Arms to hold us when we falter. A circle of healing. A circle of friends. Someplace where we can be free.” In this episode, I interview Nicte Soto, founder of Nicte-Ha Cafe, a military spouses community designed for driven individuals who want to continue developing their own personal and professional path while navigating the military lifestyle. We talk about her drive behind creating this community, her passion for empowering N.O.B.L.E. spouses, and the upcoming launch of her event “Operation Elevate” where military spouses can learn that confidence is closer than you think.
“Live in the moment. Don’t carry baggage from the past. Put that baggage in a history book and learn from it, but don’t carry it on your shoulder. You will feel lighter and be able to enjoy the present and the future.” In this episode, I share my advice on how we should see our recent adaptions as a mobile workforce as opportunities to shape the future and avoid returning to our inefficient past. You know I’m all about CONSTANT ELEVATION!
“You can’t build an adaptable organization without adaptable people–and individuals change only when they have to, or when they want to.” In this episode, I share my thoughts on approaching organizational change. This three-part cycle can be applied to any size team, it just takes deliberate leadership and teamwork to turn a bright idea into a reality that has long-term sustainability built in.
“When the winds of change blow, some people build walls, and others build windmills” In this episode, I interview Lieutenant Colonel Kyle Grygo, a fellow cyberspace operations officer. We reflect on the early phases and challenges of accelerating the rollout of telework capabilities to meet the demands of the workforce, how these capabilities and more have shaped certain behaviors we may not want to give back, and what leaders should consider for their teams as the option to return to the workplace becomes more available.
“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” In this episode, I freestyle across a few topics. I cover how to deal with the frustrations of teammates, the difference between knowledge and wisdom, and how my journey as a leader has multiple layers of depth.
“A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life.” In this episode, I show the parallels between how I coach in the gym and how I lead in the office. I share three techniques that work in both situations and how you can elevate your leadership game.
“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. When you listen, you may learn something new.” In this episode, I share my recent feedback session that included some interesting and shocking perceptions of me as a leader. I’m not impervious to feedback nor do I claim to be perfect, but I know that remaining true to myself, both for good and bad, will help me keep my mind and my heart pointed in the right direction and forge a path I can uniquely claim my own.
“The best ideas emerge when very different perspectives meet.” In this episode, I cover my top 10 recommendations for what incoming squadron commanders should and should not do during the first 90 days of taking command. I take an alternative approach and don’t present my ideas in chronological format, but rather focus on the different groups you will interact with daily and how to forge those relationships early.
“A goal is not always meant to be reached. It often simply serves as something to aim at.” In this episode, I reflect on my recent performance at the 2021 Baltimore Open. I talk about my mindset approaching my first weightlifting meet, how I performed, and why deliberately challenging yourself will help you become a stronger person.
“Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in.” In this episode, I discuss my recent encounter with the idea of acedia. I cover the various elements that drove to this encounter, how I will choose to overcome the feeling, and how I intend to find peace through deliberate thought and action.
“The spirit of democracy is not a mechanical thing to be adjusted by abolition of forms. It requires a change of heart. ” In this episode, I let my mind and thoughts run via freestyle to address my current concerns with my former and possible current brothers and sisters in arms that decided to storm the capitol on 6 January. No set lesson or takeaway, just my thoughts on wanting to understand so we can heal together. LET’S GO!
“A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while, he gets to know something.” In this episode, I share my strategy for taking over a new team and seeking to earn trust early. Even when our team is physically distanced, I use the framework of Listen, Learn, Help, Lead to lay a foundation of communication and collaboration so the teams can continue to succeed.
“Hope is not a course of action.” In this episode, I kick off Season 3 of Constant Elevation by sharing my perspective on how I intend to tackle 2021. No resolutions or wishes on deck, just the drive to be a positive leader through my actions and not expecting hope to save the day.
“Your story could be the key that unlocks someone else’s prison. Don’t be afraid to share it.” In this episode, I interview Captain Sabrina Torres and Captain Orlando Cabrigas, medical officers stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. We talk about their grassroots response to addressing their Airmen’s need to talk about race and discrimination, how they seek to share the human side that we all have in common, and discuss some creative ideas to share our collective stories and strengthen the Air Force community.
“Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?” In this episode, I talk about my internal struggle with this classic question. This isn’t a clear cut decision, and most of us have to overcome ourselves to make sure we are recognizing things we can change, things we can’t change, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Welcome to episode 50! In this episode, I talk about a struggle all of us deal with: trying to stay motivated. In fact, I don’t rely on motivation to keep me going, because that feeling is too fickle for me to rely on. Instead, I rely on discipline.
“If a window of opportunity appears, don’t pull down the shade.” In this episode, I welcome back SMSgt Eddie Grant. We talk about maintaining productivity even in quarantine, overcoming fears to unleash your true potential, Eddie’s new creative endeavors, and always looking for opportunities around every corner. Be sure to stay and listen to his new song “RONA” at the end of the episode.
“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” In this episode, I interview Lt Matthew Banuelos, a fellow cyberspace operations officer. We talk about our digital origin story, the pros and cons to being a prior enlisted officer, early commander expectations of a Lieutenant, and the advantage of having fresh perspectives to tackle dynamic challenges.
IT’S A CELEBRATION! This episode is a recording of the last minute FaceBook Live event I arranged to celebrate selling out the entire first run of my book No Pressure in ELEVEN DAYS! I also announce the next phase of my book’s release just in time for the holidays. LET’S GO!!!
“A man who trusts nobody is apt to be the kind of man nobody trusts.” In this episode, I interview Colonel Billy Pope, Chief of the Future Operations Division at United States Cyber Command. We talk about his recently earned opportunity to serve at the next level of command, how to develop a culture of trust at multiple levels within an organization, and how academia has positively shaped his leadership style both as a student and as an instructor.
In this episode, I cover my recent experience of finally putting my hands on my new book, “No Pressure”, and what it meant to finally achieve this milestone. The road wasn’t always easy, but I stayed the course and am proud of my creation. I also cover some new experiences and challenges I’m preparing for in my continuous pursuit of constant elevation.
“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” In this episode, I provide some reflections on feedback I received from mentors and peers on recent approaches to problems. Did I learn my lesson, or am I too proud of a leader to learn from them?
“No legacy is so rich as honesty.” In this episode, I interview Lt Col Tim Turner, the recently graduated commander of the 82d Communications Squadron out of Sheppard AFB, Texas. We talk about our origin story that goes back to being company grade officers in the 22d Communications Squadron (WELEAD.COMM!), why leaders need to get comfortable with delivering honest conversations, and how we are committed to making the Air Force better with every opportunity, either those that are provided or those that we forge ourselves.
“While we are here, let’s do the right thing.” In this episode, I welcome back Major Charles “Ski” Dobson. We talk about his upcoming opportunities heading into his second tour as a squadron commander along with being selected for Lieutenant Colonel, how we still have some work to do in regards to mentoring officers within the new promotion system, and why no matter what position we serve in, we need to always do the right thing and keep that same energy.
“Leadership without risk is Management, and we don’t need more managers on our team.” In this episode, I provide my thoughts on a recent event at work where I took bold actions to drive progress in my organization and encountered some resistance to my tactics when I rocked the boat. Some people are just not comfortable with being uncomfortable, and I’m not one of them. Like David Goggins says, “I’m not crazy, I’m just not you.”
“I bomb atomically, Socrates’ philosophies and hypotheses can’t define how I be droppin’ these mockeries, lyrically perform armed robbery…” In this episode, I don’t have a formal topic or agenda to cover, so I just freestyle some of the things currently going on in life. A few work things, a few fitness things, a few community things, a few creative things. Always seeking to constantly elevate.
“Accelerate Change Or Lose.” In this episode, I share my thoughts on the 2020 virtual Air, Space, and Cyberspace conference. I cover the keynote presentations from General Charles “CQ” Brown, Chief of Staff of the Air Force 22, and CMSgt JoAnn Bass, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force 19, as well other senior leader panels that cover topics that are important to advancing the Air Force.
“Leadership is not a position or title, it is action and example.” In this episode, I interview Sergeant Major (Retired), USMC, Greg Harting. We talk about our origin story at USMC Command and Staff College, his three simple rules for success, and how leaders need to stop overthinking things and get out there and lead
“No Pressure…But Don’t Mess This Up.” On the one year anniversary of me launching my podcast, I congratulate all of the officers recently selected for the best job in the Air Force: Squadron Command, AND…announce the title of my upcoming book and give some insight to the upcoming release! I am excited to release my passion project from over a year and half of hard work and want to continue to inspire the next generation of leaders the Air Force needs.