News for Your Soul: Lauren Lyons

“Everything that happens to you is a reflection of what you believe about yourself. We cannot outperform our level of self-esteem. We cannot draw to ourselves more than we think we are worth.” – Iylana Vanzant

If given the opportunity 1LT (First Lieutenant) Lauren Lyons would enjoy working with the wise Iylana Vanzant. From our interview, and what I read about Vanzant they both are resilient women. Lyons graduated and commissioned from the great Alabama State University, and whether she knew it or not, she had been influencing me with her natural ability to lead and optimistic demeanor when I met her in 2012. Always striving to be an example, she was a phenomenal example but also exceeded the expectations of those around her. Not only has she encouraged me as a professional, but also as a confident black woman. I know that her realm of influence extends far, and I hope that it is news for your soul!

Attitude of Servitude

There are quite a few paths to becoming an officer in the armed forces; ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps), OCS/OTS (Officer Candidate/Training School), and ODS (Officer Development School). 1LT Lyons chose ROTC, which granted her the opportunity to earn her degree and fulfill one of her dreams. Becoming an officer is no easy feat, but she has accomplished it and is serving her country extremely well. At the age of 14, she knew that she wanted to be in the military. Her attitude of servitude led her to the military.

I always felt that serving others is what gave me the greatest satisfaction, so I figured why not be a part of an organization that was greater than myself..and {that} would place a new meaning of what service really means.

Interestingly enough, she wanted to join the Army (I say HOOAH!) but was persuaded to take a different path. She thought back on her excitement for her interview with the local Army recruiter and how quickly that excitement turned to disappointment when her father, who had 9 years of prior service in the Navy, kindly asked the recruiter to leave.

I was so upset at that moment because I felt that my dad was restricting my dreams however, I would later come to appreciate the push that both he and my mom gave me to go to college and earn my degree…I learned that not only could I achieve my dream of being in the military, but I could become an officer in doing so.

This one event changed the course of her plans only by a small account. Listening to the sage advice of her parents, not only did she accomplish one her goals, but surpassed her original expectation of her goal (by becoming an officer) and earned her bachelor’s degree.

I Will Never Accept Defeat

As with all things in life, there are things that can either make or break us. Those times come far and few in between for some. But in the case of 1LT Lyons, she faces different challenges on a day to day basis, being a leader. Before commissioning, she explained that she dealt with the ‘nonsense and foolishness’ of a typical college student. She did make it explicitly clear that she does not regret one moment of her college experience.

….don’t get me wrong I had a wonderful college experience and would do it again in a heartbeat without changing any decisions I made however, I was constantly reminding myself that I had to stay focused on my studies, physical fitness and responsibilities as a cadet in order to grasp my future ON TIME!

This discipline led her to remain on track and enjoy her college experience at ASU. Another defining moment happened years earlier in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina affected Lyons and her family. At 14, she understood that life could change from what is normal to terrifying and unpredictable in the blink of an eye. She vowed from then on to take advantage of any opportunity that presented itself to her.

Speaking of opportunities! Only nine months into her active duty career she was asked to emcee her wing’s change of command ceremony which hosted a minimum of at least 500 people! She recalls the wonderful opportunity as a defining moment in her career because of the large audience, as well as her three-star Command General being amongst those in the crowd! I know that the phenomenal women* who inspire Lyons were very proud of her performance. They probably are also very proud of how she carries herself in the face of adversity.

…some people have tried to intimidate me due to their scope of intellect and the fact that they have been doing the job for years, however it’s the moments where I have to stand on my ideas and believe that what I have to contribute to the conversation matters.

Understanding professionalism the way that she does, Lyons is always kind and tactful in reminding others that what she may have to say is accurate and helpful.

Leading from the Front

Often as children, we are told to lead from the front and not the back. This is exactly what Lyons does. She informed me that her natural hair journey has been over a course of four years, but that it has not been hindered by her career. Actually, she has received many compliments on the versatility of her curls. She has a big personality with big hair to match, but always sets the example by staying within regulation.

In fact, due to my ever changing styles throughout the weeks, I get compliments on how fitting those styles are in regards to matching my personality.

As a black woman, she deals with another aspect of leadership.

I think being a black woman is magical and I find it liberating not so much challenging. However, when I am personally placed in a situation and I feel as though my being a black woman is being challenged, I take a different approach to that moment. Rather than getting offended, I rise above that situation and see it as a moment to educate whomever that ignorant person was at that time.

As an officer, she enjoys the people and influence that being an officer has, but also enjoys seeing her Airmen achieve goals that they once thought were impossible. She describes the feeling as remarkable, surreal..almost indescribable.

Lyons stated that confidence and taking care of herself are her ‘work-on’s. Instead of calling them weaknesses, she calls’s them walk-on’s because the key is to turn them into strengths. She chose confidence because as an officer she is expected to have the answers, but realistically sometimes she does not. One of her greatest strengths, however, is remaining optimistic, which makes a significant impact on her airmen. This God-given trait is something that she prays does not go away. Another strength that she told of was her people person personality. She is able to connect with many diverse groups of people and adapt to various personality traits to make for more fulfilling conversations.

Aim High

1LT Lyons defines success as doing what you love to empower others to do what they love. -I’m just saying I LOVE that because she so graciously gave me the opportunity to interview and write an article/blog post about her!- She elaborated that success is not based on a financial standing or by one’s possessions, but rather the impact that you make in the lives of others.

Here is some wisdom that she leaves for the younger generation:

Once piece of advice that I would give the younger generation is to always believe that they are not where they are from, that they can achieve anything they set their minds on, and to never      never sell themselves short for the sake of their dreams.

I would tell them that their dreams should motivate them to be better and to never dream small, they should dream so big that it keeps them awake at night planning and plotting on achieving it one step at a time.

She hopes to and is, empowering her Airmen and others to achieve beyond their failures. Lyons would like to challenge others to step into their greatness by believing in themselves and stepping out into new opportunities, just as she did.

“Servanthood IS my success.” -1LT Lyons

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