Spouses in Leadership—A Family Approach!

By Lt. Col. Ralph Gracia
Guest Columnist

Recently, I experienced a cyberspace graduation and pin-on ceremony in a special way. At the first ceremony, my wife, Enid, and I watched our daughter, Charlene, graduate from cyberspace school. This graduation meant much to our daughter and our family. Charlene’s husband, Sylva, a civilian contracting officer for the Air Force, also watched his lovely spouse being recognized for completing the six-month program. The following day was Charlene’s second ceremony–a promotion to the rank of captain. I reflected back to May 2013 when her mother and I had the honor of pinning on Charlene the rank of second lieutenant. Now, four years later, we had the honor of pinning on her captain’s rank.

There is a connection within our family we enjoy all the time–we call it a family approach to a successful life worth living. I experience this approach following steps moving through the process of life. Making adjustments along the way is great for all those involved. I strongly believe in my wife and how her leadership has strengthened my life and my Air Force career. She did the simple things to keep the family strong and united. The more she added, the better the journey. This journey has been that of a successful career and life. Who would have thought this approach would keep us strongly bonded for 32 years? It was fitting that Charlene and Sylva also celebrated their one-year wedding anniversary the week of her graduation and promotion ceremonies. Strong spousal support in a marriage is like any successful organization—you need to have it or you lose the motivation toward the most important things in life.

I am grateful and proud of our many accomplishments and how we have continued to foster best practices within the family. It takes a team of individuals, like a family, with the right approach moving in a meaningful direction for success. For example, taking a team from ordinary to extraordinary means embracing the differences we bring to each other’s lives. It’s important that we have great people or leaders in this process for it to work effectively. In fact, to better appreciate leadership styles, I have learned from my wife, daughter, and my son, Sylva, during these past years, and recently, at our memorable ceremonies. I understand we are in this together; adding to the toolbox is what makes us stronger in our careers and in life. Extraordinary individuals choose their leadership style like a golfer chooses his or her club–with a purposeful approach to the matter at hand, the end goal, and the best tool for the job.

I must say, beyond what I would have ever imagined, I carry the beautiful memories treasured at the ceremonies. As I said in 2013, and again in 2017, all I am, all that I have become as a parent is due to my family approach…truly blessed!

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