Last week in New York City, I had the honor of moderating a Wells Fargo Veterans Day discussion with Admiral James Stavridis and Vice Chair Bill Daley. After the formal event, team members and clients gathered for a few cocktails and hors d’oeuvres in the lobby.
Before leaving for dinner, the Admiral — former Supreme Allied Commander NATO, responsible for over 120,000 troops in 51 nations and operations in Afghanistan and Libya — summoned all the Wells Fargo veterans in a side room for a few minutes.
Once we huddled around him, he thanked us for our service and participation in initiatives to help the military and veterans community. The Admiral paused, and then briefly referred to the state of the world and country…war, political division and other current geopolitical and domestic challenges.
Then he reminded us that we took an oath when joining the military, and that there was no end date to honoring it.
The Admiral, standing tall at 5’5”, paused for the moment…the entire group hanging on every word…and said…
“As Napoleon told us, a leader is a dealer in hope. There’s a lot of fear in this world; you are brave people. Be leaders in hope and help us move forward through and past the fear.”
An awesome lesson in leadership from an extraordinary leader.
I hope we can fight against the urge to pile on to the cynicism, pessimism and despair that is often peddled, and felt by simply watching the news or following the financial markets.
It is up to each of us, daily, to spread positivity, optimism and the “can-do” spirit embedded in the ethos of the military veteran.
Let’s be dealers in hope!