Last week, I wrote about the assignment I gave my students. The assignment was to spend three 30 minutes session in silence and solitude, then reflect on what they discovered about themselves during this “directed” reflection. Remember I gave it to you, my readers. One reader passed the assignment on her students. Then, because leaders do what we ask of others, I gave myself the assignment. Here is my reflection – or part of it anyway.

Friday – 32 minutes: As I recalled my childhood and thought about the important people in my life, I began to think about my brothers Dan and Jim. They were important to me as a child, and even more so as an adult.  We spent summers of independence at our family cottage. Our parents worked full time and we had to entertain ourselves. We swam, biked, sailed, and with very little supervision kept each other in line. Today you might say we were “free range” kids.

Dan, the one with the dazzling smile, inspired me to go to the Naval Academy. Two years older, he was the “Bell kid” who went off the U.S. Air Force Academy to seek an education beyond our families’ reach. I remember so clearly visiting him on parent’s weekend. He looked very different – distinguished, disciplined and already engaged in his life-changing adventure.

I came home from that weekend knowing I would seek a similar challenge.

My younger brother Jim, the one with incredible intellect and kindness, saw the same opportunity and went to the Air Force Academy. A legacy had begun, or so I thought.

I realized the threads of service in our family had been woven two generations prior. My maternal grandfather served in the Navy in WWI. We had a picture of him with his sailor cap tipped at just the right angle that I wish I could get back into my hands. My mother was a cadet nurse, on the way to becoming an Army nurse. The war ended before she finished training. Although she did not serve in the Army, my dad did.

And there is more to the story. Dan’s wife is from an Air Force Family, Jim’s wife is too. Dan’s three sons are academy graduates – two served as Air Force officers and one as a Marine officer. Jim’s daughter is currently a Space Force Officer. And the legacy continues. One of Dan’s daughters- in-law was an Army nurse, another is from a Marine Corps family. By the way, I’m marrying a Naval Academy grad. His son, who is a USNA grad as well, is currently deployed in the Mediterranean on one of our newest Guided Missile Destroyers. Greg says our marriage will bring things back into balance – 4 USNA grads, 4 Air Force. As our family grows, we expect that we may even gain a few West Point graduates to join this legacy…maybe.

Gratitude washed over me during my reflection. I hope that you may experience the same.

Just as I asked my students to do, I called Dan to thank him for being my brother and for his willingness to serve. I’m calling Jim tonight.

Service is our legacy. What is yours?

Need another assignment? Drop me a line and I’ll get you started.

Fly high,


Does your organization need a speaker? Or a leadership development workshop? Drop me a line at captainbarbarabell.com and, of course, check out my book, Flight Lessons: Navigating Through Life’s Turbulence and Learning to Fly High.

#legacy, #service, #reflection, #womenveterans, #veterans, #coaching, #mentoring, #leadership

Photo by Joel Moysuh on Unsplash