by Abby Shue, Ignite Louisville Class of 2013 –
November 7th marked our very first Ignite Louisville Program Day. Emerging business professionals from a variety of sectors were asked to abandon the comfort of well-groomed, professional appearances and resumes of impressive accomplishments that afforded us the opportunity to participate in Ignite Louisville. Instead, we donned knock-around clothing and prepared for what could only be perceived from a vague email as some sort of outdoor, physical challenge at Ft. Knox.
My newly formed team brought a variety of expertise in data analysis, human resources, corporate finance, non-profit management, fundraising, human services and information technology, among many others. Despite having just met, we were confident we had the skills and motivation required to succeed at most any challenge.
Our afternoon at Fort Knox involved working together to overcome obstacles in simulated tactical situations with the help of a few wooden planks, pieces of rope, heavy supply ammunition boxes, injured dummies and an U.S. Army mentor. All bets were off. The aforementioned accomplishments and skill sets we thought defined us as true leaders diminished in importance as we struggled to build bridges and safely deliver each team member to the other side of the course. The playing field was entirely leveled among my team as our own areas of expertise were traded for physical challenge work, an area of far less experience for most of us. During our struggle with the obstacles, we grew as a team and honed our decision-making and troubleshooting skills together.
I am thankful to Leadership Louisville and to Fort Knox for reminding us true leadership comes not from our degrees, job titles and success stories. In fact, as Chris Brice of Northwestern Mutual reminded us, it is when we are pushed far beyond our comfort zones we realize who the true leaders are and develop ourselves as individuals. I am appreciative of the opportunity to spend the next several months with many talented, aspiring leaders, working to improve ourselves and our community.