An incredibly humbling, awe-inspiring opportunity

Michael Bush

Michael Bush (IL '12) financial advisor, Northwest Mutual

Ignite Louisville 2012 November program day at Ft. Knox

Ignite Louisville has already proven to be a huge success for me, and we’re only a month into the program! On November 16 we had the chance to spend time at Fort Knox getting to know some of the members of our military and learning their leadership strategies. What an incredibly humbling, awe-inspiring opportunity!

Our group leader, Captain J.R. Fry, actually thanked US for our service and what we do for the community. He told us the reason he serves in the military is to give people like us the freedom to do what we do. Captain Fry recently worked two years at a base in the Northwest near Lewis, Washington, and he encountered war protestors and general hostility towards the soldiers. He had to remind himself every day has he passed them that what he is doing gives them the ability to express their feelings freely. All of this was coming from an Army Ranger—one of the toughest men on the planet—who has served two tours of duty in Iraq. We can all learn a lesson from his humility and selflessness.

I have to say, though, that one of the best parts of the day came when we went to the strategic weapons training area and got to shoot our own M-16 semiautomatic rifles! After learning the basics of how the gun operated, we practiced on some turkeys (picture Duck Hunt on Nintendo—no real ammo). It was painfully obvious I’m not a hunter when my teammate Josh hit 62 and all I could manage was 3. We then graduated to some sort of industrial war zone and had to fire at the enemy hiding in various positions. Finally, we were placed in real-life scenarios in which we had to determine who were the good guys and bad guys and if the bad guys were enough of a threat to shoot. Talk about intense! To imagine that our troops are put in those situations on a daily basis without the comfort of knowing it’s just a training exercise is overwhelming to say the least.

I can’t wait to see what the Ignite Louisville program brings us next!

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It’s All About the Peanuts!

Cynthia Sysol

Cynthia Sysol (IL '12) assistant general counsel, RecoverCare LLC

-Ignite Louisville 2012 Opening Retreat

Just imagine. An all expenses paid trip to a remote tropical island. As you board the small prop plane you barely notice the six other individuals boarding with you as you already have one foot in paradise. The sky is clear blue, the breeze ever so soft. You can practically taste the sunshine. Life couldn’t get any better than this.

Then….BAM!!!! You wake up a survivor of a plane crash with six total strangers and only a handful of salvageable items. As your head spins you hear others shouting, “Let’s get off this island” followed by shouts of “Let’s set up camp.” How did this happen? How could it happen? What are you going to do?

It is here, in this unbelievable scenario, you learn the value of a team. At first, chaos might ensue. You look around at the remaining items: a lighter, suitcase, a bag of peanuts, flashlight, compass, blanket, tool box, magazine, water bottle, airplane seats, and a flare. Hands grab to what is perceived as the most important items. However, no one can get everything they want. Next, communication begins. People discuss what items are available and what they can be used for. Rationalizing and justifying every angle. Tempers may flare as some argue “it’s all about the peanuts” while other dispute the nutritional value of a single peanut.

Communication may break down and rebuild only to be broken again. A leader may emerge or the most silent member may all of a sudden speak with confidence and reason. Group dynamics form, communication strengthens, bonds develop, and a common good mentality emerges. Finally, decisions are made with majority agreement: keep the lighter, toss the peanuts. The group is formed.

Through a teambuilding exercise, we were asked to select a few items after a plane crash. My group went through most of these steps discussing and disagreeing along the way, but ultimately coming to a consensus. Although the process may have been arduous, in the end we couldn’t have been more proud of the group as a whole and firmly stood behind the decisions made.

The process, traits, and dynamics of a group resonate in almost every aspect of our lives. Family gatherings, business settings, and leisure activities involve at various times, chaos, communication, break down, anger, insight, and consensus. Whether we are defined by a name, jersey, or other identifier, we are a part of a team more than we know. Ignite Louisville reminded us that not only does a team require a full set of complementary skills to achieve a task but that in some cases, it may just be all about the peanuts.