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Four Leadership lessons I learned from an “EO Specialist”

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Many years ago, I read an inspiring article by Col. James Moschgat, 12th Operations Group commander, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, entitled "Leadership Lessons from a Janitor."

The simple truth is that everyone has "a story." I thought it might be appropriate to recognize one of our own here at Peterson Air Force Base and highlight specific points that if personally applied to our lives could potentially make us better people.

As it turns out, I had the privilege of interviewing Hazel Lowe for this article. I suspect many of you know her. She recently celebrated her 79th birthday and has been here at Peterson AFB since 1991. If you do not personally know her, I'm confident you have seen her at one time or another. To me, she is an impressive figure, not because of size or physical strength, but because of her profound wisdom as it relates to the Equal Opportunity arena. Unfortunately, this quality is often overlooked.

As the poet Thomas Gray put it:

"Full many a gem of purest ray serene, the dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear; full many a flower is born to blush unseen, and waste its sweetness on the desert air."

There is no way I can accurately capture who Ms. Lowe truly is in this brief article; however, allow me to take a moment to share a couple simple facts about this EO specialist. Originally from Panama City, Panama, she is fluent in Spanish. She has been an EEO specialist for 31 years, longer than anyone else in the Air Force. She has been recognized locally and nationally for her dedication to this line of work. I'll be honest with you; I didn't have many of these facts prior to interviewing Ms. Lowe a couple of years ago. So, you might imagine me with my mouth agape as she humbly shared them with me.

The lesson here is to appreciate all those around us and take some time to learn about and appreciate who they are and what they do.

Ms. Lowe, our EO specialist, taught me several valuable and unforgettable leadership lessons.

Here are four:

1. Be cautious of labels (stereotypes): Labels you place on people may define your relationship with them and limit their potential. Be cautious of a leader who callously says, "Hey, he's just a young Airman." Likewise, don't tolerate the O-1, who says, "I can't do that, I'm just a lieutenant."

2. Everyone deserves respect/courtesy: Be courteous to all around you, regardless of rank or position. Military customs, as well as common courtesies, help bond teams.

3. Take time to know your people: Life in the 21st Space Wing can be hectic, but that's no excuse for not knowing the people you work for, with and around.

4. Take pride in what you do: Dr. Martin Luther King said, "If life makes you a street sweeper, be the best street sweeper you can be." And, Ms. Lowe certainly is the best EEO specialist I have ever met.

The members of the EO office have learned to polish, liberate and enable Ms. Lowe's gifts in order to help us grow personally and professionally. I suspect, you have someone in your office that can do the same and I encourage you to seek them out.

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