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  • Writer's pictureEarl Breon

003 - Human Centered Leadership W/ Col. Don Taylor

Updated: Jun 21, 2022

In this episode, I speak with Col. Don Taylor about human-centric leadership. We touch on his time in the military running clinics in a war zone and how the lessons he learned there has made him a better leader in the civilian medical community.


Earl Breon 0:01

Hello, everyone, my name is Earl Breon. And you are listening to the burden of command podcast. And before we're active duty United States Marine with over 25 years of coaching and mentoring experience across the military, civilian federal service and private sectors. I'm a lifelong learning enthusiast when it comes to leadership. And this podcast is just an extension of that pursuit. My goal with each episode would be to bring in great content to leaders across all spectrums of the word leadership. Leadership is a complicated adventure. You're dealing with complex people, on complex teams, in complex organizations, in complex situations, you'd have to know how to interact with each one of these elements in the appropriate way at the appropriate time, in order to achieve success. lead your team well, and it's a glorious thing fell in any one aspect and it will be disastrous. This dear listener is the burden of Khamenei Alright, listeners Hello, and welcome to this episode of the burden of command podcast. Today's guest is Colonel Don Taylor. Now Colonel Taylor is a 27 year veteran of the United States Air Force, he's held a lot of positions, more so on the medical side of things. To me looking at his bio, the pinnacle was being the commander of the Air Force theater Hospital in Bilad. Iraq. I know there was probably a lot of issues that went down there that we'll talk about. In his private sector, he still does a lot of work in the health care community. And we'll get into some of that as well. But He's also author of a book and full disclosure. I haven't had a chance to read it yet. But just the just the abstract there. Sounds fantastic. It's called quiet heroes. I'm sure we'll touch on that as well. So Colonel Taylor, thank you for joining us today.

Col. Taylor 1:58

Oh, thank you. And I appreciate the invite today and eager to share some thoughts.

Earl Breon 2:02

Yes, absolutely. Well, let's get started. Because the first question I ask all my guess, what is the phrase burden of command mean to you?

Col. Taylor 2:12

You know, I, you hear it many times in a military career, because command, let's let's kind of break it down command, you know, has a certain authoritarian, you know, interpretation or belief, certainly from the private sector and those that haven't served in the military. But to us, it's just about leadership. Now, the burden of command to me has always been, I've kind of looked at it as the privilege, or the responsibility, or my own personal accountability for people their health and well being and admission, that burden becomes heavy, sometimes, depending on the intensity of it. And we've all had opportunities throughout our career to see it. I've had what I call intense commands, and I've had lighter commands. But, but the burden of command to me is really, really important for a leader to understand it not necessarily as a burden in the negative connotation, but as a huge privilege, of which you really are all in. And that's the part I always kind of discussed even with my peers, and I still teach today is that if you do it, right, you're exhausted after your term. If you don't, you could probably do it a long time. So I always understood, I questioned some of my peers who would do two and three commands back to back because I said, I don't know how you, I don't know how you you can take it with the availability and the intensity and the responsibilities of that. And in my course, my second question was, well, you must not be all in, if you can do it that many times. Because when you're all in, it's all inclusive. It is it is 24/7 It's all in emotionally invested in the mission emotionally invested in the people. And you really want to leave it a lot better than you found it.

Earl Breon 4:15

That and that is a great definition. And I will agree with that. One 100% And, and to sum up your philosophy. So you were also on a mutual friend of ours, Jim Rashard, you were on his walking the walk podcast. And you shared a wonderful story on there about a young lady that ran into some issues under your command and how you handled it. So if you would, please take some time and share that story for my audience, please.

Col. Taylor 4:41

Sure. I would really like to because it was an important lesson not only for me, but for them and for my organization as well. I had arrived at this was while I was the commander of a community hospital at Luke Air Force Base in Phoenix, Arizona. We had the culture the base was intense, had a great boss, great boss who allowed us to have a lot of freedom to do the things we thought right within our own commands. He was not a micromanager. But we had a culture there within the base where we had a lot of behavioral issues that were influenced by other airmen across the base. And, and we had a community that encouraged sometimes misbehavior and others just because of the, of the kind of where we were in the kind of opportunities available to our airmen outside of the space. Anyway, one day I had had, my first sergeant had come to me and said, we have a problem with one of our airmen. And I said, Well, how Why are you bringing it to me rather than a Squadron Commander, and he said, Well, this one falls into your, into your areas of personal accountability. And I understood that what he meant because at the very beginning of my command, I made it clear to everyone that mistakes are encouraged, but crimes will be dealt with and dealt with rapidly. And that I am a very logical and predictable outcome to their own choices. Just the way it is you're the rules. You want to get along with me. Then play by the rules. You want to violate rules, you'll probably meet me. If it's a if it's a violation of what I calls, sexual impropriety, alcoholism, racial discrimination, drugs, those are all going to be elevated to my desk personally, you will deal with me personally in those, well, that was a massive deterrent for a lot of people. As a matter of fact, I went, I went years of command without a DWI incident with any of my hundreds and hundreds of folks. But this particular event, elevated it because we had a young lady young airman who was below age, I call legal age of drinking. She had been in the Air Force a very short time, probably less than a year, I think, at that time. And the first sergeant said, Well, she she started with reporting a missing purse. I said, well, that that's not an issue for me. Because well, no, she her purse was taken while she was asleep. Okay, got it. She was asleep while she was asleep, and an apartment of a stranger. So now what? Well, this was somebody she didn't know she wasn't really asleep. She was passed out drunk. I went, Okay, now we have an issue. Because she's on a path to self destruction. If we're not careful, I checked up. And sure enough, she had been great performer, great worker, great attitude. This was just a bad event for her and bad choice on her part. I said, Well, we know what we have to do, she has to formally report to me, I administer what I call direct punishment. And her entire chain of command from me to her is all in service dress in the room witnessing this as well in my office, massive deterrent on embarrassment and humiliation. But it was important for them to understand the magnitude. And it wasn't something I enjoyed either. So when we the day, the day the day happened, and I had, I had a report, she walks into the office, and I look at she's standing there crying and standing in a holding salute. And I immediately saw my own daughter standing in front of me. It was almost all I could do is to not cry myself. But I know I had to stand firm. I asked her some pretty firm questions about did she understand what she had done to you? Did she understand the risk of her own choices? And do you understand her responsibility to make better choices? And by the way, her accountability for this incident? And was she willing to take that and she went, she agreed to all so I dismissed her. told everyone in the room. Thank you. Because I don't like to do this, frankly, was the only time I ever had to do it in my two years of command there. But then I told the first sergeant I said tomorrow I want you to bring her back. And Dutch bring her back in her normal, you know, combat uniform. And I need about 15 minutes with you and she in my office. He goes with four and I said just bring her back tomorrow. So the next day she arrived. Instead of in front of my desk, we sit down the couch over the coffee table.

Col. Taylor 9:38

And I asked her again. Did she understand the responsibility. She was a little defiant still a little angry wanting to preserve a little pride I think. But I finally began to break down that she had you know some issues in her own life. She had always resisted authority, because she really hadn't had an authority figure she respected I said, Well, here's what I'm going to ask you to do. The punishment with this will be minimized. So it's recoverable for you. But what happens next? Depends on you. And she goes, What do you mean? That's it? My next request is pretty simple. I just want you to look me in the eye and promise me, you won't do it again. And her reply immediately was, Are you serious, sir? I said, Absolutely. It took her 10 minutes to finally look me in the eye and say, I promise I will not do it again. I said, that's good enough for me. I trust that you'll be good to your word. She looked very puzzled. The first sergeant was smiling ear to ear. And I dismissed him. So for every month, about every month, I would do random walk arounds in the organization. But every month I walked through her workspace. And I would look find her. She'd come running up to me, look me in the eye and go, sir, I'm still good. Well, that I knew was where you really win the hearts and minds. And I, I committed to that for the remainder of time and the day of my change of command when I literally handed the guide on over and I walked to my car, she ran behind caught me and she said, Sir, I'm still good, and always will be. That was the last time I saw her. But that was a powerful moment for me and for her as well. And if you don't think that it had didn't have an effect on the rest of the culture, it was significant. That people could push the edge. You know, sometimes you just need a little nudging back in line, you don't need a terminal and decision or terminal actions. It's just you got to trust. Now, she had the option to make this fatal. If she had continued to misbehave. She was wise to make the decision to improve her life. And she's far as I know, she's still in the Air Force doing great.

Earl Breon 12:11

And I would guarantee if you saw her today, she would probably say I'm still good.

Col. Taylor 12:16

She, she would do it. And I know she would do it because that was a significant event for her life. Right? I had a similar situation, a young man who was in my food service, young airman. He just happened to be the quarterback for our intramural football team to good guy. But he just had he hung out with the wrong guys. There was an investigation, all of his friends got busted for drugs. But he was clean. At least. I thought it was clean. The OSI thought he was dirty. And they kept harassing him and harassing him. And I just finally what days? You know, I walked to my car. And I'm questioning he standing at my car in the parking lot. You know, sir, I just want you to know, I'm good. I'm not guilty of anything. I said, then you've got my support. So I allowed the investigations to finish. They wanted me to prosecute. I said, you have no evidence I will won't do it. The Wing Commander brought me in and said, Are you sure you want to do this? Is it Absolutely. Is this the right decision? Well, 10 years later, he applied for a commission in which the company grade officer for all of Europe. You never know.

Earl Breon 13:29

No. And that's powerful. And that's, you know, and that's the thing that I hope people really focus in on on that story. I mean, it's powerful in a lot of dimensions, but at the position that you were in, and the position that she was in, if you had had zero empathy, if you had zero leadership skills, you could have ruined her career and potentially her life for the rest of her life. And I think a lot of people don't realize, especially in leadership roles, that razor thin line that they walk with how they influence the people who by choice, leadership by choice or by management force, they're in charge of, and it's a powerful story and there's there's tons of those I remember when Bill Parcells legendary NFL coach was inducted into the Hall of Fame he told kind of a similar story regarding Lawrence Taylor, now for those of you who aren't familiar with with NFL football, Lawrence Taylor legendary at his position, but he suffered from a lot of issues disciplinary issues with drugs alcohol. Later on in life. There were some allegations of of underage underage dalliances with prostitutes and things like that. But the one thing that Coach Parcells said, because somebody asked him what was his biggest success and his biggest failure and success was all great But when I asked him about his biggest failure, he got all teary eyed. And this was a coach that was not known for being like an emotional people person. And he said, Lawrence Taylor, I didn't take good enough care of the man focused on the football player. I should have done more work on the man. And that was it. It was it was a simple answer. But it was so impactful if you're in our space. And you understand what he was saying, because what he's saying is he got focused on success and sacrifice the people. And that's a traumatic experience for leader like for you, that is a good story that you can tell now that that makes you feel good about what you did. But had you miss that opportunity? You'd still be sitting here wondering to this day, what could that young airman HIPAA comm if I had handled it the way you actually did, right,

Col. Taylor 15:59

right. And we had, you know, in the same organization, we had some examples, I had a, I had a supporting commander, who was, who was who was a little heavy handed. And I can tell you one incident where he had a mid to senior career in SEO, who he wanted to court martial over $100 mistake and his travel voucher. And I Wait, you don't have to be that extreme. Why don't you just talk to him? Well, the next morning, we get a call. And that particular tech sergeant was standing in his residence with a gun to his head. And I and the vice Wing Commander, talked with him and body armor for seven hours to talk him out of it. We ended up recovering his career, helping him get back on track. But it reminded me of the, what I would call the the shallow nature of command, you know, you can't get you can't become infatuated with power. It's not about power. It's about responsibility. And some people get carried away with power. I see it in politics. I see it in industry. i It is just, it's it really bothers me to see people infatuated with power and entitlement, when in fact, they really have a responsibility and an obligation. And that's the part of leadership that I feel gets confused at times.

Earl Breon 17:40

When You're Dead on and part of that is something you said earlier, and that story is, when you came in, you set the expectations. You know, and I see this way too often new leaders will come in. And somehow they magically assume everybody knows what is expected of them. And then they get mad because those expectations aren't being met. And I have to pound it into their head. You can't hold people accountable for expectations, you have not said it doesn't work. And you know, I don't know in your space. You know how often you see that happen with it, you know, especially in the medical field, but it just drives me crazy. When people are dealing one on one with people. They just assume that everybody knows what's expected of them. But people don't right, because every leader has a different level of tolerance and a different level of expectations.

Col. Taylor 18:39

And some don't have any idea what their own levels of tolerance or expectations are. I can't tell you how many times I've seen them just assume the titles. But they offered no leadership, no direction. I would I know before I would move into a leadership role, I would study for six months. The organization I would look at all the reviews, I'd look at IGS I would look at complaints, I'd look at HR actions. I knew going in. When I the day I write for command, I knew exactly what my message was going to be in the direction we want to take matter of fact, the second day I do a commander's call with my PowerPoint deck of our vision. Here's my vision. This is where our organization will go. And there's no more than there's only three, three goals. Nope, not to not for just three. We're going to do three things. And I'm not going to add a fourth when we finished the three. For the remainder my tenure, we just do these three. If we get them finished early, we celebrate. We started having fun, but I'm doing nothing more than these three. And then I would go then I would set my expectations of behavior a choice. Just like I said crimes and mistakes. I would set expectations of self discipline, and, and sometimes standards of performance, uniform standards, expectations, behavioral issues. Just just commitment to what we're primarily doing. And I will tell you that that resonates through the organization. They, they almost breathe a sigh of relief because they know exactly what we're about. There's no guessing there's no uncertainty. And it's always reinforced. Every time I visit and talk, every other PowerPoint always started with our three goals. It was a constant. It was a constant reminder of where we were going, as the organization were mature. And they all aligned with that. You'd get some that would step out of line. I had a young physician when I arrived my second day, literally the second day, this was before she heard my presentation. And she sent a note to the entire Air Force position universe out there betta unhappy she was in that command here had never done anything. Okay, got it, brought her into my office, had her report, have a physician report that was unheard of. And I said, interesting email that you didn't include me on, but my network shared it with me. Second is, did you give me an opportunity to solve your problem? She goes, No. I said, Will you she goes, I guess I should write? I know you bet you will. And I said, now you're going to send an apology to that entire network and include me that you've discussed it maybe with me, and we will resolve it together. I know you have an hour to send it. She did. We met the next day. solved all of her problems, got her career advancement. gotta read on the right track even got her retrained in the specialty she wanted. The point was, you just you just have to, you know, you have to work with them. But they have to trust you. But you also have to, you insist that they trust you. Yeah, that's the other part of it, is that you can't let those things slide because that becomes a standard of acceptable behavior that I won't tolerate.

Earl Breon 22:18

And I'm glad you mentioned that word, because this is this is another one of my I guess pet peeves, right is when people are, are happy with the standard. You know, and I remind people you don't standard is just the minimum accepted level, right? Just meeting the standard means you did the basics. Even if you have a quote, high standard, that's still the minimum level of accepted performance, be better than the standard, I don't want you to do standard work, I want you to be extra ordinary, go above and beyond. And so I love it. And, you know, again, there was so much there, because you talked about trust. You talked about we talked about setting expectations. And these are all, in my experience, these are all critical points of failures in somebody's leadership life. If you just come in with the attitude, I'm the leader, this is what I want to do just because I want to do it. And you have no ability to set a vision, discuss why your vision is the way that they that the organization should move. You fail that power trip piece, right? And, and that's the biggest, you know, when I'm doing coaching, especially in mentoring, and I'm going especially talking to somebody who's up for a promotion, the first question I always ask them is, why do you want this promotion? And if the first words out of their mouth, or anything to do with power or pay, this is probably not the promotion you should take. Because because I want to hear what you can accomplish for the overall good in that position versus how it's going to look on your ego or your paycheck. And that's what I liked about what you did you did your homework you got there. You were prepared. You were ready to go. You knew why you needed to be doing what you were doing, not just because you're the new commander. Right.

Col. Taylor 24:19

Right. It that. And that's that's really important because I wanted this for the reasons of influence. I wanted it for the reasons and not my own interest, but the interest of the organization. I wanted to help change people's lives. That's where I get my reward. That's where I feel satisfied. is helping people discover themselves. That's really to me what it's all about. Helping them discover their own potential and their own paths. And by the way, you know, I just kind of keep him off the curves. You want him to zip down this path toward a vision toward the toward a common goal and my job just to keep them off the curves don't Don't buy the sides. And that's really all it is. And once you do that, and then you consistently do that, then leadership becomes easier. Because it's, it's, it's, it's inherent with your own nature. It's aligned with your own values. It's aligned with you. And the way you are, it's genuine. You're an authentic leader. And it's very easy after that. Very easy after that.

Earl Breon 25:30

Well, and that's the, what you just said, there. Again, that's solid gold, because that's the one thing that a lot of people that I deal with in the private sector, they get kind of off put by, you know, using military examples and things like that. And I get that they can't necessarily associate if they haven't served. But but the point is, and this is what I hear the colonel saying, and he can correct me if I'm wrong here. But the point behind this is one of the reasons leadership textbooks from military leaders are so popular is these principles have been tried and proven in some of the most hostile environments on the face of the planet. And this is what I tell folks, if there's leadership principles that can work in the pow prisons of the Hanoi Hilton in Vietnam. There's zero excuse why they can't work in your organization, you do not have the hostile of the hostility and the pushback that existed at the Hanoi Hilton. And these folks come out if, if any of my listeners here haven't read yet, there's a great book called Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton. And it dives deep into what those POWs went through, and the mindset that they came out with and just one statistic that blew my mind. The average ballpark PTSD rate of the general service population in the Vietnam War, depending on which study you look at seems to range somewhere between 30 to 40%. The pow population is down below 4%. And everybody expected it to be near 100 When When those men came home. And it's about those solid leadership principles, and there's a lot of great authors out there have written about it. Colonel Lee Ellis is one. Yep.

Unknown Speaker 27:21

Yep, I know him. I know him pretty well. Great. Well,

Earl Breon 27:23

I just got contact with him. So I hope to have him on here in a few episodes. So

Col. Taylor 27:28

he's a great guy. I know him through the Air Force Association. Awesome.

Earl Breon 27:32

You know, but that's the thing like, you know, these aren't about we're trying to militarize leadership, is these are principles that work. We were giving you ideas on how they work. The question is, how do you make them work for your organization?

Col. Taylor 27:47

You know, it's funny, you should mention that there's a couple of things about leadership. I'd like to add to this now, before in the environment that I had described the two previous incidents. Another element of that on the first day, too, was we will have fun. I wanted people to love coming to work, I wanted people to enjoy being there. And so sometimes you would, you know, you would create events, where you was, it was funny, too expensive. Because you wanted to test whether they were that comfortable with you. I I remember once after the holidays, you know, in the military, you always had the dreaded weigh ins for those of us who always rode right on the edge of the of the upper scale on that. Oh, yeah. And in in the airforce, they were random. And they were career Enders. You know, they were career changers. And if you ever, you know, were put on the program, that was that was the kiss of death. Because you you you were ineligible for anything. And it was always reflected on your evaluations. So I didn't like the randomness of it, particularly after the holidays, because somehow it always seemed that somebody was made manipulating who was going to have to step on the scale on the third of January after the holiday feasts. So I had a commanders call our first day back, and I announced to the entire organization, we will have no random weigh ins for 90 days. I've halted them. But on the first of April 100% of you will line up and stand on the scale right behind me. I'll be first. You could just see the whole room go or Is he real? And I said and by the way, we'll get in here early every Friday at 530. And we'll run together for an hour. Every Friday information by unit and we're gonna have fun doing this guys. I want to hear the chatter I want to hear the Jodi's I want to hear I want to see camaraderie with your shirts, and I want you to have fun with this. So I said and we were all in fitness clothes that day. And so today we're all going to run and we're not going to be good, because I know you're out of shape. I said but just to show you what a great commander I am. I'm going to pace the slowest of you today. I'm going to run with you just To show I'm here to support you. You could see people in the room go, wow. And then somebody go, Wait a minute. He's out of shape too. That's why he's running with the slow people. And then he started laughing. And I knew, I knew that I had the I had them, right. So sure enough, we do the run. There's two young ladies way in the back. I run back to them, everybody else has already turned the corner. They're in the park, and there's 700 of them. They're in the park. They're cooling down. We're probably 200 yards out. And with these two young ladies, and I said, are you okay? And they go, sir, we just had babies six weeks ago. This is really hard. I said, oh, we'll take it easy. Let's go in together. So we're running together, we turned the corner. Everybody in the park stand there looking at us. The girls looked at each other and go now, and they take off in a hard sprint. I couldn't catch either one. I was the last one in the whole place was applauding. Nice to me. That moment was one of the proudest moments I had in command. Because they felt so comfortable to do that with me. Yes. And you know what, the day we stood waiting, I had one out of 700 people fail. It's just, to me, that's that's an environment that you you desire. You know, I've never had one exactly the same sense. But the point was we trusted we grew. And I still had many, many friends. Right from that time. And frankly, a good portion of my direct reports are now general officers.

Earl Breon 31:38

Well, you must have done something right, then

Unknown Speaker 31:40

they've done quite well.

Earl Breon 31:42

But that's that's a good thing to point out. Because I had similar experiences. By the one that I remember, you know, there's always that one person that you remember from from your career was when I knew him, he was Sergeant rusty Alberto. And he had a very similar mindset that he's like, I want you to have fun. We're gonna be a little loose when we're off hours. But we're by the book will run hours, you know, I mean, it was to the point where off hours, he was okay, with people calling him rusty. But I screwed up one day, we were in uniform, on duty. And I called him rusty. Oh, wow. And he jumped knee deep in my rear end. And you know what, I deserved it. And I respected him so much more for doing it. Because, you know, it's easy to just be buddy, buddy, and let everybody get away with everything. It's easy to be the authoritarian and let nobody get away with anything. It's leadership to be able to walk that line between let's, let's have fun, when we're supposed to have fun, let's tighten our belts, we're supposed to tighten our belts. And I will still be able to be in control when I need to be in control. Right. And that's a great skill set to have.

Col. Taylor 33:03

Yeah, I I, I the responsibility of command, I felt it 24/7. And so I never really was off and I encouraged others don't be off. You know, don't go to the don't go to the to the Lowe's and dirty jeans on Saturday, because you'll be seen, you may not know them, but they'll know you. And you're always always on, always on, no matter what you do what you say you're on, watch your behavior, watch your language, watch what you do. Like because people are watching, and they learned or it's just just be that take that responsibility. And that's where I talked about if you do Command, right, it's exhausting. Because you never get a break until you leave the country. You just never are off. As long as you're in that community, you're still the commander. And I had that. That was important to me to sustain that. Because it people drew from that. And they felt confident that there was an authority figure who stayed there. And it was it was very comfortable that you go to different organizations, of course, your leadership style adapts. So you know, we could take everything that I just said here and apply it to my command in Iraq. And that was completely different. Completely different. I did the same level of prep, but I prepared for psychological safety. Before my team left. I assume they all had the technical skills to go. In matter of fact, I challenged them again commanders call set the stage set expectations. Six weeks before we were wheels up to go to Iraq. I had about three quarters of the team and in the big auditorium at Wilford hall and I said I expect you all to be ready to perform within fit 13 minutes of landing and country. If you question your skills, now's the time to leave without penalty. Now, Chief mess sharpens the back door, he'll take your name. But I want you to leave now. Because there's no training over there. There's no this is not OGT. And then I said, so the next thing I want you to do is work with me on how you're going to renew yourself during this deployment, what you're going to see what you're going to do is going to be life changing transformational for you, you will never see injuries like this in your life. Thank the Lord, you will not, but you're going to see him now. But I want you to either change yourself financially, spiritually, emotionally, or physically, are all four, you pick any of the view, I said, I'm me, I'm going to be spiritual and physical. Those are the ones I really want to focus on. And I'm going to ask you what were deployed, what you're working on for your own renewal. Because when we get back, I want you to return going, I'm better than when I left. My legacy is I improved me, and I improve the outcomes of a lot of young men and women. Well, that I said that guys, you can carry the rest of your life. And that prevented PTSD. Yes. Yeah, I mean, it was an I would constantly walk around and talk to people challenge them comment about their, their muscular build, or their weight loss or their their time in the chapel or their, their financial planning or just the way just emotionally getting themselves back together, their reading their intellectual development. We constantly talked about that, while we did our job. And I had had matter of fact, the the Air Force's Mental Health Conference asked me to speak about what I had done to prepare the folks it was sort of to immunize their their psyche for the trauma before they ever left. Yes. And it works.

Earl Breon 37:01

It's the what would you say at near is, is an aspect that I don't think too many civilian leaders considers is the mental well being of the people that they are leading. And it's something so the organization when with my partner is called the leadership phalanx. And in the failings, one of the things we talked about is what you just said, we talked about moral injuries. And we take it from the battlefield PTSD mode to bullying, and harassment in the workplace. And sure, they may not be landmines that you're stepping on. But when somebody you know, if you're a member of the LGBT community, and somebody is making jokes about the LGBT community that creates those same level of moral injuries that happened on the battlefield, maybe not to the same degree, but the same type. Right. And over time, it leads to a lot of trauma, very similar. And I was going back through Colonel David Grossman's books on combat, non killing, they talk about a lot of this same stuff, the mental health aspect. And again, this is one of those things we're I know, in the civilian sector, they get tired of hearing, military, military, military, but there's a lot of parallels that can help in the civilian sector. And, you know, with the mental health aspect you like, how has that transition to what you're doing now? And in the private sector?

Col. Taylor 38:38

Yeah, well, it's interesting, just you should say that I did this keynote that I did this last Monday for the civilian hospital financial officers, for their state conference. I started with my leadership psyche are my leadership philosophy for a rack as kind of setting the stage. And then I took them into all of the disruptive and transformational things that are happening in their own healthcare space. And I said, the leadership concepts and lessons that I had in Iraq, apply to you and preparing your workforce for upcoming changes in health care, because they're fearful. And they're uncertain. And I said, the concepts are the same. And so I developed kind of 11, what I call my 11 ills of leadership. And it's just 11 concepts that begin with the letter L about how you prepare the workforce, to be safe and secure and willing to engage this this new future and just presented it this last week. I'm now taking it and refining it a little bit more. It's pretty clear to me it's going to become a book. Just because the ELLs are so are so robust and I have such deep, I have nice developed stories behind them from the deployment, and from my military experience, and how they all apply to the private sector, particularly in the healthcare space. And in it's all around the concept of restoring the concept of care inside healthcare again, you know, we've dominated been dominated by the business elements, we're not going to get this right until we care about people have that we start there, right? We care about who works, who commits to this, and by the way, and, and the workforce. And I told the accountants, as if you don't go to your waiting room every day, talk to patients talk to families. And if you aren't emotionally moved by that. I want you to quit. Oh, and go make Chevy trucks. Because you don't belong here. Yeah. I said, I used to at Wilford Hall, I dealt with knuckleheads all day, I was the vice cleaning and overhaul, I said, I had to go rub baby's heads to reconnect with what we're doing every day. I mean, how we go down there once a week and just rub baby's heads. And it allowed me to kind of reconnect to our purpose to the higher calling to the compassionate side of what we do, rather than self serving interest of a lot of the folks that have the labor force I had to deal with. So I'm going to be a voice for you know, particularly in the healthcare space, I'm a voice for caring. And if you aren't, you weren't in it to care. And I don't want you to hear what I'm, and I'm going to be I'm going to challenge you on that.

Earl Breon 41:37

Yes. And again, I think that's one of the tenants of, of military leadership that a lot of civilians are surprised to hear is the level of care concern. And let's just we'll use an L. And I don't know if this is one of your 11 ELLs or not, but you have to love the people you lead.

Col. Taylor 41:57

It is, yeah, you gotta love the purpose and love the people you love what you do, and love those you do it with. That's the Elbert I have in there. Love it. My last one just to teach you is legacy. Oh,

Earl Breon 42:11

I love that as well, that legacy was one of the things I didn't recognize it at the time. But it was one of the things my grandfather drilled into my head and he had this thing. And he would just say it out of the blue sometimes. And he will literally say, Son, When I die, I would much rather have people walking around here asking why they didn't build a statue in my honor than asking why they did. And I'm sitting here thinking like, What are you talking about? And now I get it. Because you know, there's a lot of monuments out there, if you will, to people who have done nothing. And we have a lot of people that have done great things that nobody knows exist, right? But we miss those people, the people have interacted with them. You know, like I would venture a guess maybe I'm wrong. But using your story, there's a good chance there's never going to be a statue or monument to Colonel Don Taylor, right. But that young lady is always gonna be wondering where it is. And wanting to visit it if it ever did exist.

Col. Taylor 43:24

Yeah. Yeah. You know, it's kind of funny when you talk about legacy. And I don't know if you're sitting near a computer screen whatsoever. But if you Googled right now barrier art blood. Okay, and you know, we painted on those barriers over there a lot. Right? If you Google barriers a lot. You'll have some pictures pop up, you're gonna see one with a bright red cross in a p 51. Tuskegee plain on it. Okay. You see it? Do you see it? Yeah, open that. That's me. And that's what I painted at Bilad my last month there. And that was my legacy to the workforce. Because that was right near the entrance to the hospital. And while painting that I was in, you know, not not in my colonels uniform. I was in my painted t shirt and floppy shorts and floppy hat, listening to music. And people would talk to me and they tell me their stories about why they were there, their fears their what they were proud of what they liked about me what they were concerned about, but I learned more about the workforce painting that barrier art than anything I ever did during my time. That became kind of our icon for the hospital. And that's just a little little small legacy that I left but the but the concepts behind why I did it. And what I learned from doing it I still use in some presentations.

Earl Breon 45:01

I love that. And I will definitely include that in the show notes. When we post the for this podcast. And I like to saying on there the Tuskegee right here, medics right now.

Col. Taylor 45:14

Yeah, right here right now. Yeah. And there's a story behind it. If you click the link, you'll see there's a whole story about what's the meaning behind it and how it comes to me and what that was what it really is intended to reflect about our commitment to service and the heritage of the Tuskegee Airmen. Yeah, so anyway, leadership comes in all shapes and sizes, and parts of it are everywhere. I love that about it.

Earl Breon 45:41

That yes, that is 100%. It's it's a, you know, it's one of those. I hear people refer to themselves as leader, leadership experts quite a bit. And I get what they're trying to say. But leadership, I think, is one of those things that you you. I don't think there is such thing as a leadership expert. There's just people who know a little bit more about leadership and others. Because there's, there's so much to it. And it's every person you interact with every situation you're in, it's always going to be different. It's it's not cookie cutter.

Col. Taylor 46:15

It's like, you know, there's like a diamond, there's never a perfect diamond. But some have many more facets than the others. Yes. I like it. But there's never the perfect diamond

Earl Breon 46:24

are like that. Well, there we are coming up here on on about 40 minutes or so, which is fantastic. I think we could talk all day and really enjoyed talking with you. But before we wrap it up, I want to give you a chance to talk about your book quiet heroes, because what little bit I've seen about it, it sounds like sounds like a fantastic book.

Col. Taylor 46:48

Well, so let me start with I was my wife has a very close friend that she's known for many years. Who was visiting us a few years ago. And while we were chatting she had she said, you know my dad served in World War Two, but he never told us the stories. He never would talk about it. And I said, Wow, that's kind of interesting. But I do know that young that that generation didn't, depending on what they experienced as she goes, but I think he would talk to you. So So I flew to Tampa, Florida. And, and just sit down right there at a little hotel by the pool Sunday under an umbrella. And we just started talking and I recorded our conversations. And it was the intent was just to begin to get him to open up a little bit. But he started unraveling a story about this 19 year old kid from New Haven, Connecticut and how he had worked in the, you know, in the vaudeville theater, and he had met some icons of vaudeville like Ethel Merman and Cecil B DeMille. And Ernest Borgnine and I went, Oh my gosh, are you kidding me goes Yeah, I kind of picked up their axe and I, I just love to do it. And he goes, but you know what? The young men needed to go to war and I wanted to be a pilot. And I said, Wow, he goes, so I joined joined the Army Air Corps. What do you know about the war? He goes not much. He goes, You know, we didn't get a lot of feedback from what was going on in the war. But you know, I just knew I needed to serve and I needed to go see something other than the Northeast United States. So he said, I signed up, I reported, they brought us all in the room. They set us on the desk and go ever looked at everybody and goes, Okay, we have too many pilots. So everybody on this side of the room, you'll be pilots, everybody on the left side of the room, you're going to be other crewmen. That was the way they decided. He goes, so I became a radio man. And he goes, I loved it, because I knew everything that was happening before anybody else did. So he started telling me his story, though, about his training about some of the challenges his crew, he was on a B 17 crew were located in England and, and in the camaraderie of his crew for the remainder of their lives. They were shot down, he met so many characters. So when we were finished, I said I was gonna write a paper at that time, I was on the board of the Air Force Association. And I said, this is more than a paper and it's not me telling anything, it's it's just sharing his story. Because I regret that we have lost so many of those, those stories that were so important to history, so important to themselves and their families. So I took it, put a little intro to each of the concepts into his stories kind of setting the stage contrasting it to some of the challenges that we have and today's you know, today's wartime experiences. And I just put it together and send it out self published in the day, the day I got the first proof copy. I mean literally the day I got the first group Gaby, he passed away in the Tampa VA. But his daughter was able to read to him the entire story. And he loved it. And so it's I never really promoted. It's just available out there on Amazon. And on the quiet heroes, and it's available for people to behind read, but it is in, it's entirely in honor of his story. And his crew and his service. That's what it's about. So, it's a cute little story. He had like a Forrest Gump existence, he met some pretty important people in history, who knew he didn't even realize how important he was. And I said, Well, this is more than just a paper. Because you've had quite a life, in his grandchildren to this day. Matter of fact, just last week, I got another note from one of the grandchildren and said, just thank you for preserving grandpa's memory with us. Thank you for the time. And thank you for doing that for us. The family can't thank you enough. So just a little part of giving back. That's all we that's all we do.

Earl Breon 51:10

Yeah, I love it. Because, you know, due to some familial circumstances, I was raised by my grandfather, who's a world war two vet, and I got a lot of his stories. I know I just got the good ones, right. Because the you could always tell when the hard ones were too hard to talk about even that many years later. But it was, it was great to hear him open up with what he was willing to open up about. And so I look forward to this. I'm going to pick it up and give it a read. And I'll have a link. I have a link to it. I'm assuming you get it off of Amazon.

Col. Taylor 51:47

Yeah, yep. Yep. You get it to Amazon. Okay. Y'all ready? Yeah, it's just, it's truly from the heart. And then like I said, if you do leadership, right, things like that are very easy. Yeah. Because it's all about celebrating the service of others. That's what it's about. And I and that's what I hope we can continue to do it. And that even transcends into the private sector. We need to celebrate the service to others, the service of others. And I just get frustrated that it's, it's not that it's not that easily seen by so many people. They get caught up in their own personal journeys, their own personal agendas. And it's a challenge, because I think we've lost a sense of service in this nation. So anyway, thank you for your time today.

Earl Breon 52:38

No, thank you. This has been great. And I get a feeling we really just scratched the surface. And you know, I enjoyed speaking with your wife, Judy, in episode two. And I'll tell you the same thing I told her, I think we just scratched the surface. And I think we need to have some more discussions in the future, because I think you got a lot to offer. And thank you very much for your service. 27 years. That's, that's a good haul. And I appreciate the impact that you've made on just hearing the stories you shared here. Again, thank you you made on people's lives is tremendous.

Col. Taylor 53:13

Now, my only regret is that I could do it all over again. I would do it again. I would do it again in a moment.

Earl Breon 53:18

I believe it, I believe. I believe it's so. So thank you for joining us. And thank you listeners for tuning in. And I'll have a lot of links to the things we talked about the barrier art. I referenced a couple of other books, and we'll have a link to to the Colonel's book and we'll definitely have him on as guests in the future. So thank you all for your time. All right. Thanks for tuning in. If you have any comments or questions for me or my guest, or you would like to suggest a future guest, send them to me at Be sure to rate and review us on your podcast platform of choice. I look forward to speaking with you again. In the next episode.

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