Merriam-Webster defines “aha moment” as: a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition or comprehension.  As a leader, what was your realization or inspiration that made you shift your style or perhaps reinforced something you were already doing?  Maybe it was a significant mistake you made or perhaps it was a tremendous win.  It could have been a humbling experience that grounded you.  It may have been something you figured out on your own or it could have been constructive feedback you received due to a blind-spot you had.

My moment came as a relatively new 2nd Lieutenant leading our unit’s NBC (Nuclear Biological Chemical) reaction team.  Our team was competing against other teams through a series of tasks designed to test our knowledge and performance.  Winning at each event would take you to the next echelon (Battalion, Brigade, Division, etc).  The competition, no matter who won, built better prepared NBC reaction teams should the real need arise.  For the winning teams, it meant opportunities for each soldier and NCO (Non Commissioned Officer) to help advance their career and become better leaders.  The ability for me to help the soldiers and NCO’s learn and advance their careers resonated with me.  It was about them and not me!  I did everything I could to clear obstacles and allow them to be successful. Our team did amazing and we advanced all the way to the Post level where we finished 2nd.  Once we regrouped with the team several days after our 2nd place finish, I reminded them of how well they did and to make sure they use everything they learned to be better soldiers and leaders.  And, of course, to include in their performance reviews.  As we were talking, it turns out that my team was doing everything they could to make me successful!  That became a very humbling “aha moment” for me.  It’s not about you, it’s about them!

My point is to not lose sight of your “aha moment.”  Whether it’s one or possibly more, they become strong bricks in your leadership foundation.  They are rock solid and many times become that North Star if you drift off course.  Never forget them and share them when you can!