Eagles On My Six

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Blog written by: Lisa Gunnoe

Early in 2016, a call went out for applicants for a new leadership development program at Team RWB.  This new fellowship program would offer learning and leading opportunities as well as certificate and guided programs of individual choice for those selected.

At the time, I had attended multiple leadership academy training sessions with Team RWB Southeast Region.  The ideal would be to have another local leader apply.  This year wasn’t a good year for a program like this for those on our Central Arkansas team.  So I filled out the application.

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One of my bad habits is “one downing” myself.  So in my head, it was brave just to hit the submit button.  A week or so later I was notified that I had been accepted into the program.  Full blown panic ensued.  In my ideal world I live in a cabin in the mountains having supplies dropped in by a drone.  After talking with my husband, who urged me to take advantage of this program, I embarked on my “year of living bravely”.

The Southeast Eagle Leader Fellows, (Lani Faulkner, Josh Winters, Dennis Volpe, and myself) planned this triathlon and leadership camp.  My part in the planning was very minimal being in AR with the camp located in Daytona Beach, FL.  Much of my involvement was on the ground, gopher and clean-up crew, I’m okay with that.
Each of the fellows had an opportunity to also participate in the triathlon camp.

Thus, I found myself facing the ocean with 25 Eagles at my back, and I have never felt safer doing something that scared me so badly.  I had spent most of my life avoiding water deeper than hip deep.   As I child reoccurring dreams of death by drowning interrupted my sleep.
As an adult, after graduating high school, I taught myself to swim in the shallow end of a pool. So fast forward to Team RWB Southeast Regional Triathlon and Leadership Camp in Daytona Beach,  FL. I stood on the beach listening to our coach, Rob Wallace teaching us how to enter open water, specifically ocean.  A storm a few days out was creating larger than normal waves, wind, surf. Coach Wallace told us that had this been an actual triathlon most race directors would call off the swim portion because of the waves.
To get under the waves instead of fighting them, we were instructed to “porpoise dive” under the wave right before it hit.  So this porpoise diving was the only thing I planned on practicing.  Hence, I would have this brave new experience without getting too far out into the deep, strong waves. Teams of five would enter the ocean, high step until the water was thigh-deep, then start diving under the waves.  Coach would advise us on shore using the group ahead as an example on how to manage the challenges.
My turn?  The waves insistently pushed toward shore as the sand underneath our feet slid away urging us out to sea.  3, 2, 1 and go! High stepping and diving under waves is hard work for body and mental will. As I practiced these new skills, I knew I could do it.  Well, I knew I was safe.  All I had to do was look behind me at who had my back.
It is an odd feeling being so scared and feeling so safe at the same time.  The mood allowed for a whole hearted effort. I hope others can experience this secure foundation in which to launch themselves into something way outside their comfort zones.
The atmosphere of Team RWB is one that has to be experienced.  Any lack of knowledge or skill is a non-issue, because all Team RWB leaders teach, lead, love.

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