Written by Jeff Knight
Camaraderie, Community, Connection (those are the three Cs) Three simple, but powerful, words - These words have so much meaning in any setting that involves living creatures/things (yes plants are people too). You find them in the Wolf Pack, the Lion Pride, the Gorilla Band and yes, even the Meerkat Mob. Social groups have benefits to their respective members, and one of them is survival through communal efforts. Herbivores living in social groups receive protection against predators through strength in numbers. Predators living in social groups are better suited to bring down large prey than those living alone. Not saying that any of us are predators, but we are social and as human beings, thrive on connection – that association or relationship. With that connection comes Community - a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common. Pretty much like most of us here, but not limited to by any means - those who served in the Military (Veterans) or those currently serving. This brings me to Camaraderie – that mutual trust and friendship among people who spend a lot of time together. At this point, I want to ensure I give credit to the internet dictionaries for those definitions. I want to come back to those but will take a slight detour for a minute…. When I left the Army after 28 years, I had a great job (before I got out) and was on the way to my next chapter. Fast forward 2 years and I was laid off. Not fun! Having never had to worry about being laid off for the last 20+ years (unless I really stepped in it), this was a shock to say the least. Took four months to find another job, and it was great – until it wasn’t - I was laid off again three years into that job. OK, been here before, and now I have civilian experience behind me so let’s go! Not so fast my friend – it took me another 363 days to find my current role although a little thing called COVID-19 had something to do with that as well. Ups and downs, but the one thing it did for me, what I gained; it brought me back to the Veteran community. I never truly left it, but I was a bystander. I was not the same leader I knew I had been. One Sunday afternoon, in the job hunt, I had a conversation with Dave Dequeljoe, most know he is my Co-Founder of Angels 14, a Navy Fighter Pilot; yes, the Fighter Pilot ego is real!!! Anyway, he had a desire to help and make a bigger impact in the Veteran community given that so many brothers and sisters commit suicide needlessly every day. He asked me if I would help him. Unemployed, what else was I going to do? Besides that, it suddenly filled me with purpose. A debt I can never repay to Dave except to do my best and so…. Angels 14 was born! When I talk about Camaraderie, Community & Connection, I am really talking about belonging. That is what we aim to do in Angels 14 without judgment, pre-tense, or asking anything in return! We simply provide a space for Veterans and their allies (really anyone in need of it) that share the values of Camaraderie, Community and Connection. We don’t come to get, we come to give…and for the possibilities. When you have a group of folks that want to support each other, teach, learn and most of all – create more leaders – you have a place belong again, and have that same sense of purpose. How do we do that? We do it through our 14 Leadership Disciplines - joy, enthusiasm, trust, courage, acceptance, forgiveness, generosity, creativity, self-awareness, intuition, vision, imagination, empathy, wisdom. When we have those personally and professionally and live them – magic! Here they are with my spin - 1. JOY: look for it in everything you do! find that inner happiness, that bliss 2. ENTHUSIASM: go hard! put everything into your purpose 3. TRUST: freely give it, and more than likely you get it in return 4. COURAGE: rise up! reach deep down, open up, and let the world see us for who we are 5. ACCEPTANCE: things you cannot change – don’t try, understand that you can’t control everything. 6. FORGIVENESS: grant first to yourself, then others. 7. GENEROSITY: ... open your heart and be unselfish! 8. CREATIVITY: ... imagine the possibilities and build something or build someone up... 9. SELF-AWARENESS: ... recognize yourself, don’t lose yourself 10. INTUITION: you know that one time where the hair stood up on the back of your neck…. trust it 11. VISION: ... see it, live it, manifest it 12. IMAGINATION: no limits, widen the aperture, take the shot! 13. EMPATHY: “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.” – Brad Meltzer 14. WISDOM: share your story for the impact that can come from that is immeasurable! I will end with this quote which we have taken on, with permission mind you, as something we at Angels 14 truly believe - Every act of kindness has a ripple effect with no logical end…. - Scott Adams. TOGETHER, let’s make that ripple, then turn it into a Tidal Wave!! Always love & respect!