Command Master Chief Leon R. Walker Jr. Discusses Frequently asked Questions about I Inspire
My mission is to serve others, wherever they may be in life, by bringing them a powerful message of encouragement, to overcome the hurdles in their lives. These are some of the most common questions that I get about my background, and my coaching business, I Inspire.
Where does the expertise come from that lets you speak to people in need?
A lot of it comes from personal experience. My path in life taught me that no matter your circumstances, you can turn things around, if you have the drive, the wanting, to make it happen, and a vision of where you want to go in life.
I was born in Cleveland, Ohio. My parents were good people. They reached out to the community and provided for the needy, but sometimes bad things just happen. My parent’s divorce was devastating to me and to our family. When my parents went their separate ways, we lost the majority of our income. We didn’t have money for food, water, or electricity.
It was a severe blow to my morale, and it affected the way I thought about the world, about myself and my life plans. I’d lost my motivation, my self-esteem, and my self-worth. Growing up, I never applied myself to studies. Education was never a priority in our household, so I was bullied and mocked for low aptitude, and I asked myself what would become of me.
I couldn’t afford to go to college, and I never took the SAT. However, my brother was in the Marines, and he had become an inspiration to me. Following in his footsteps, I was motivated to join the Navy for the love of travel, the culture of respect, and the commitment to others. That was the type of lifestyle that I wanted and needed.
I took the Armed Services Aptitude Test. I failed twice, but each time I tried, I got closer to my goal. I learned that, with motivation and with resolve, I could sit down, study seriously and, though it took a bit longer, I could master the concepts on those tests. It was small victories that increased my confidence. Each trial was an effort that I could build on. I could dig deeper each time and eventually, with resolve, earn my goal.
How does your military background affect your role as an inspirational speaker?
Thirty-two years of service to our country gave me so much. I experienced different cultures in my travels and met so many different people, it opened me up to a world of personalities. It revealed skills I didn’t know I had, how to manage objections, set realistic goals, and be a true leader that people could count on. With promotions, I had opportunities to help other people, mold them, and move them into better roles, to give people jobs and the life-changing benefits that came with them.
Boot camp was a great experience for me. It gave me a purpose, self-confidence, and opportunities to participate with people from different cultures. At first, I felt awkward because I knew I’d struggled on the aptitude test. My superiors recognized that I was slow to grasp concepts, but they credited me that once I learned a new skill, I was reliable. That confidence was great. I was certain that, with my drive and work ethic, I could keep up with everyone, even though it might take me longer.
I was inspired by my commanding officers to seek higher roles. In a leadership role, you need to know people’s personalities, their aspirations, and keep everyone informed. I wanted to assist the people in my team and support the commanding officer. I sought those opportunities to do more and earned myself a number of promotions. Command Master Chief, my title, is awarded through an application and selection process. The rank makes up less than one percent of the naval community.
During the course of my naval career, I had the opportunity to participate in a mentorship program with local schools. With my peers, we taught life skills, like ironing, how to tie a tie, changing fluids in a vehicle. The students were very receptive. We taught them with structure, care, and tough love.
The experience showed me that students, although educated, don’t always get the care they need to transition to corporate America. Children need to have “grown thoughts” before they become adults, and parents should get involved, to teach corporate values like responsibility, timeliness, and respect.
Roles like this prepared me for my teaching career after my retirement from The Navy. As a teacher, I was inspired by a friend to write, mentored by friendly authors, and one book led to another. My books make it possible to reach out to as many lives as I can touch.
Can you condense your message, your approach, to inspiring people of all walks of life through I Inspire?
Stop doubting yourself. Doubt and fear reduce your focus. Don’t ever think you can’t do something. Have a goal and a vision, and don’t let the opinions of others be a limitation to you. Opinions are not reality.
Children, your test scores don’t define you. They’re a firm ground to build on. People have different natural gifts. You can make yourself a master of whatever may be your expertise. Whatever you want to do, strive to be the best. The single truth is, wherever you are in life, you have to do something, “if you want better, you will do better” and apply yourself. Commit yourself to what you want to do. Do nothing halfway. Never be content; always strive to be better.
Always give back. Don’t ask yourself, “Why do you do what you do?” Ask yourself, “Who do you do it for?” I tapped into myself, I can tap into other people, and they can tap into others as well.