Who knew, certainly not me…
Ten years ago if you told me what I would be doing today I wouldn’t have believed you, not even in my wildest dreams.
My path, the one originally agreed upon with my parents, including a university education, was an expensive one. One day however it all changed. It was there sitting in a classroom in Alaska when let’s say, creative differences saw me close my books for the last time and walk out the door. I was 19.
In the wake of that decision, however, the predetermined path of higher education and a international upbringing could well have been laid waste had I let it.
I was born in Florida, and raised in Hawaii and Singapore as my parents were both pilots in the US Navy before taking on contracting roles. I was used to being on the move. When I look back on my childhood, I realize I was gifted with parents who took on the responsibility of taking care of others. This was apparent very early on in my life through the many discussions and conversations with my father in particular. There is one thing that has stuck with me over the years that he instilled in me. I firmly believe in two parts of one golden piece of information that shapes how I am able to balance my ethics, leadership, and managerial obligations to keep my family and team moving forward together. “Do the right thing, and take care of your people.”
My parents had taken good care of me in every way I could imagine, so to go against the grain and buck the system wasn’t an easy decision. But I had my own dreams that required my own ambitions and my own path to follow. I had been taught to stand up for what I felt was right for me and it was time to craft my own future.
I stayed in Alaska and launched a car detailing business. Note, the environment wasn’t exactly one that encouraged a clean shiny car to drive around in, but I stayed with it until my business stagnated. I knew the services I offered would be better received in a more inviting climate, so with that I packed all my belongings into my car and headed across from the North West back across the state lines making my way to Virginia. I should add this was done in the snow, with bald tires, in an old car accompanied by more than a few prayers. Looking back the odds were against me being able to make it across the state, let alone beyond the border.
Today I have come to believe you never know where life will take you. In just a few short years later, however, I became a husband, father, business owner employing 10 staff and an entrepreneur by trade.
As I sit back, reflect, and think about where I am now, I am married to my soul mate and now my life’s witness. She is the mother of our two beautiful children. I spend most of my days thinking about them and how everything I do is directed to help move our family ahead in this world. Today we remain in Virginia. Our amazing team executes our company vision and mission on a daily basis. It is almost as if I live in what I can only describe as a simulation where as a unit we can create any future we desire in the world around us.
I certainly wasn’t lucky, nor I didn’t accidentally stumble across my chosen path, I planned everything down to the letter. I surely didn’t wake up with both the mindset I have today and the way I see life. This has been honed.
These words were shared with me when I asked my father for his best advice in leadership. To this day, I orient many of my decisions around what is right, and how I can benefit the people on my team to ensure they know they are taken care of.
“When you are faced with tough decisions or need a bearing to orient yourself back on track, I encourage you to ask yourself what is right, and how can you ensure you are taking care of your people. Whether it be your family, your employees, your friends, partners, coworkers or even a stranger in passing. When you have a principle as seemingly simple as such, yet as impactful as you desire, I believe anyone in this world can live a life that they only could have dreamed about”
I am Leland Jones, I am by all means on my path, the one I chose for myself.