We have all experienced life throwing us curveballs. Rodney Flowers’ guest today is no exception. Rear Adm. Kyle Cozad, the President and CEO at Naval Aviation Museum Foundation, has had his fair share of challenges and obstacles. Kyle has over 20 years of experience in command leadership roles and was responsible for diverse organizations and missions. Today, he shares how having a strategy and a systematic way to attack adversity enabled him to overcome and win it. Whenever we are facing adversity, it’s not the end of the game. Very often, it begins with how we view the obstacle and the challenge. Mindset is the key not only to overcoming challenges but also to experiencing success.
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A Strategy For Attacking And Overcoming Adversity With Rear Adm. Kyle Cozad
I have Rear Admiral Kyle Cozad in the studio with me. He graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1985. Cozad’s career centered around Aviation Training and Operations with the Marine Patrol and Reconnaissance community, where he commanded at the Squadron winging group levels. Cozad served extensively as an instructor pilot in multiple operational tours and completed two tours with VP-30, the P-3 Fleet Replacement Squadron and with the Canadian Force’s 404 Squadron in Greenwood, Nova Scotia as a CP-140 exchange instructor pilot. Cozad has a very interesting story. The reason why I brought him on the show is that I want you to know his story. It’s a story of adversity and overcoming, given that we are dealing with challenges and obstacles in our society and this “let’s just face it” life, in general, throws us curve balls. I’m sure many of you have dealt with these situations before in your life.Every athlete and every scholar needs somebody to push them that makes them better. Click To Tweet
He’s an example of overcoming, not only overcoming but having a strategy and systematic way of attacking adversity, overcoming it and winning. I wanted to bring them on because I wanted to share with you and give you an example of what’s possible whenever we are facing adversity and challenges. It’s not the end of the game. A lot of times, it’s the beginning and it begins with our mindset, how we view the obstacle and the challenge. You have heard it before and heard me say this over again, I’m drilling it because I believe it’s the key, not only to overcoming challenges but experiencing success. If we have a systematic approach, we know what to do when we get there. A lot of times, it’s not knowing what to do that causes a lot of people to give up because when you don’t have anything, it feels like you don’t have hope.
If we can know what to do when we get hit, we know what play we need to run. We know what to do. That gives us hope because if you haven’t played your playbook that you can go to whenever that happens or maybe you have a plethora of plays, a system that you go to, this system can get me through if I execute it over some time. I may not get exactly where I want to go but I can move from where I’m at, I can experience progress and that’s what life is about. It’s about progress.
Let’s welcome Admiral Kyle Cozad to the show.
Rodney, thanks so much. I’m excited about this. I love your enthusiasm for the introduction. Let’s have a conversation.
First of all, I want to start with your story because not everyone knows your story. I know some bits and pieces of it from my research point of you. You were referred to me from Emily’s podcast or Onward Podcast. I want to plug her and the show because she has done some wonderful things. She has a wonderful show about getting onward, moving onward from the past, the trials, the obstacles and the challenges that we may face in life. She mentioned some good things about you, recommended that I have you on the show. I want to know about your story and how you have navigated to where you are now.
I grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada. I played basketball. I was good enough where basketball was my ticket to get into college. I went and played at the United States Naval Academy for a couple of years. That was my real first introduction to adversity because tons are on my plate. You’ve got to get up early in the morning, study, do military drills and try to keep your nose above the academic minimums but also get out there on the basketball court and work for 4 or 5 hours a day. I struggled there. That was the first time in my life during my second year where an academic advisor told me, “You can’t do both these things at the same time.” The young kid that I was, was in a position of authority, I said, “Okay,” I let somebody convince me that I couldn’t do something.
Flash forward a few years, I followed my passion to become a Naval Aviator. I was lucky. Thirty-five years of service and got to do some neat things. I have flown around the world, I have gone in and out of neat places, I have been able to instruct but I have also done unusual things. I was the 22nd Director of the White House Situation Room. I’ve got to work in a suit and tie for two years in the West Wing of the White House. I have had a tremendous opportunity to do some cool things.
I’m coming up on my third anniversary. I’m healthy, athletic, I worked out all the time and suffered a freak accident in my home residence in Pensacola as a result of that, it’s an incomplete spinal cord injury for me. I broke T12 down to L2, lower back. I found myself on the floor after a significant fall. I couldn’t get up and I didn’t understand what was going on in and out of consciousness. I woke up the next day in an ICU after about seven hours of surgery, where my neurosurgeon told my wife and me that I would never get out of a wheelchair. That was as good as it was going to get. He hadn’t seen the damage to vertebrae and a spinal cord that was outside of a high-speed car accident. As you can imagine, pretty sobering. That was a slap in the face for adversity for me and a point in my life where I had to make some decisions. I had to figure out what was next. As you can imagine, the first hurdle you’ve got to overcome is how do I accept this? My life has changed based on what he’s told me. It allowed me to collect myself and start to chart that way forward and create that playbook that you talked about.
What was that like for you emotionally and mentally? You worked out a lot, very active and now you are in a place where you can’t walk. Take us through that process.
One of the things you’ve got to know about me, I am one of the most optimistic, positive guys. My glass is always more than half full. That’s how I approached the injury. You talk about the different stages of denial when you have a significant event. I moved through mine pretty quickly. I realized, as I was laying in bed and in an ICU unit, that I couldn’t do anything from the waist down. I couldn’t move my legs and I had no feeling or sensation. It didn’t take me a week, a month, a year to come to terms with the fact that this is where I am. I quickly moved ahead to, “What can I do, doc? What’s the outcome? What’s your prognosis?” As he walked through the, “You are never going to be able to walk and live a normal life.”
I thought back to previous examples of those long workouts before the big state finals game pouring your life and soul into being physically fit. I said, “I’m going to prove you wrong.” Call me a little stubborn but my outlook was, “That’s your opinion, now what’s next for me? What can I do? How can I work to get better?” I made a decision. On my 2nd or 3rd day, I’ve got some pretty grizzly pictures of a beard that’s coming in. I was still on active duty in the United States Navy. I was groggy but coming to terms. I realized that I had a decision to make. I can either lay in bed for the rest of my life and watch ESPN 23 hours a day, listen to your show for the other hour a day or I can say, “What’s next? Let me tackle this head–on.” Within 2 or 3 days, that’s exactly where I was. Let me tackle this head–on and prove the doc wrong but also get out there and get back to what I love.
What steps did you take when you made the decision and what happened physically after that?There's nothing wrong with having a handicap. You’ve got to embrace it and show people that you can do it. Click To Tweet
I was in ICU for about seven days. My wife and I decided what’s best for us. We went to an inpatient hospital and ended up being about six weeks for physical and occupational therapy. There were a couple of things that stuck out to me. The very first night I was there, I’ve got a good night’s sleep, as good as you can get in the hospital. About 7:00 in the morning, a guy came into my room. I can remember him to this day. I consider him a hero and a close friend. He went into my closet, pulled out a pair of shorts, shoes and a T-shirt. It looked like we were going to the gym. He threw them at me and said, “Let’s get dressed. We are going to go workout.” I’m thinking to myself, “I can’t even roll over in bed by myself. How are we going to do this?” He helped me and pushed me. I looked back on my athletic career. Every athlete and every scholar needs somebody to push them. That makes us better.
My good friend that day started the push process. I can remember that as a significant event because I’m out of my hospital gown. I look normal. I feel like I used to feel. On the second day of physical therapy, they put me in this machine and took me from my wheelchair. It’s a big clunky machine but basically, it pulls you out of your chair and gives you the assistance to stand up. I can’t feel my legs and feet but you want to talk about an exuberant feeling to say, “There you go, doc. You are wrong. I’m standing up already and this is day two.” Little events like that motivated me. I’ve got to the point where I do all my exercises. The stubborn guy in me, if they said, “Do ten of these,” I would do eleven. If they said, “We need to do this for five minutes,” I would do it for six minutes. I pushed myself. I can remember going and getting up in a walker for the first time. Again, I have already proven the doc wrong. Getting up in a walker is physically exhausting. Think about having to learn how to rewalk.
I’m in my walker and I take seven steps the first time. It felt like I went 7 miles and I was excited. I’m not done. I’ve got some things left to prove to folks. Seven steps turned into 17, 70 and I was walking with a walker. I’m blessed to have an incredible physical therapy and occupational therapy staff that continued to encourage me. It also allowed me in the hospital to watch other people. I was very fortunate at that time because my wife Amy would come to the hospital every day. She would sit through all my therapy sessions. I had a coach and a cheerleader but sometimes, it felt I had a policeman because she would kick me in the butt when I was feeling sorry for myself.
She was my encouragement. I’ve got to know a lot of other people. With that encouragement, I started to feel like, “You talk about a purpose. What’s your purpose?” I’m a pretty faithful guy. I said, “The good Lord put me here for a reason. This isn’t punishment. This isn’t anything else. I’m here to be able to help other people. Tell them my story, show them what I can do through resilience and help them through a difficult time for them.”
Definitely an example and you are doing and fulfilling that purpose. How important was it for you to have that chip on your shoulder? You have mentioned multiple times you have something to prove. You wanted to prove the doctor wrong. You wanted to prove people wrong that thought that you couldn’t do this. How important was that to you?
It was important. I had some motivations in my life. I’ve got three adult children. My son, who’s the youngest of our children, is another Navy pilot. He saw me in ICU right before he had to leave and going away on an eight-month deployment. You set incremental goals there, just like I would do it on my walker and take ten more steps every day. I set a goal for myself that when he gets home from his cruise, I want to walk out of his airplane to meet him. The chip was personal. I want to show my kids that I can do this. I want to demonstrate to my wife I can do this but also, I love serving our country and our Navy. People told me, “You are going to have to medically retire.” I said, “Watch me.” My desire and that fulfillment of being able to try to get back to work, continue to be a Naval officer and do the job I love were all motivating factors and the small chips on my shoulder then I said, “I’m going to push through this and see how much further I can get every day.
I have been following you a little bit. One of the things I realized about you when you’ve got back to work, people embraced you and you were still a leader. One of the things I have seen in your posts was leading from the wheelchair. Talk to us through that. There are a lot of physicality in leadership. Your posture, the way you present yourself and what your presence says is in a room. Not alone having to deal with being in a wheelchair and the effect that that can have on you, you weren’t born with this. This is something that occurred in your life. Having to go back into the military where leadership is held at a very high standard and lead. Talk to us, were there any challenges in your thought process transitioning back into work, still having to lead people, leading from a wheelchair? Walk us through how you were so effective at leadership even after your accident.
There was a guy who wrote an article about me. It was The Admiral Who Leads From The Wheelchair. That was one of the hardest psychological things for me to embrace. I can remember getting out of the hospital for the first time. I have been a healthy guy. I was muscular, tall, I worked out all the time and now I’m in a wheelchair. I had to rely on my wife for a lot of things. Trying to wrap your mind around, “It’s okay to be different.” That was the hardest thing for me, not just when I started to get back into work incrementally but as I started to go out into public. “I’m that guy. I’ve got a physical handicap. I can’t do the things that I used to be able to do but I’ve got a really good friend.”
He used to come over and see me once a week. We used to talk about Franklin Delano Roosevelt all the time, the President of the United States. I believe he was a polio victim. He leads the country from a wheelchair. It’s an interesting story because if you look at Roosevelt, you are hard–pressed to find pictures of him in a wheelchair. His staff was very protective of that. I looked at that number one and said, “If he can do it, I can do it.” Number two, there’s nothing wrong. You’ve got to embrace the handicap. You’ve got to get out there and show people that you can do it. Part of it was a demonstration.
I started back into work after 6 or 7 weeks of inpatient physical therapy. I telework from the house for a couple of hours a day, still trying to go into outpatient physical therapy. I would go into work for 1 hour or 2 hours one day a week that went into a whole morning and I’ve finally got into an entire week routine. From a leadership perspective, I tell everybody all the time, “Leadership and what you have to offer is not about your mobility and physical strength, it’s about what you have up here and what you have in your heart.” I felt strongly that I wanted to demonstrate that to people. Number one, you have the respect of a team. I had an incredible staff who was there for me the whole way. That leadership was a two-way street of respect back and forth. As I’ve got out there, I had a lot of feedback from folks who work for me. I’m always embarrassed to use the word inspirational because I don’t consider myself inspirational but the fact that I was out there in a wheelchair traveling through airports.Don't let anybody convince you what you can't do. Show them what you can do. Click To Tweet
I will challenge you. The next time you are at an airport, think about how many handicapped people you see in a wheelchair. I’ve got relatives who need to use a wheelchair from here to there because they are older and they have some breathing difficulties. The first time I went back and I flew on Delta Airlines from Pensacola to Atlanta up to Chicago, I realized that there aren’t many other people like me traveling. Again, I’m going to show people that it’s okay to be here, to do these things and I’m going to push myself. The folks who worked for me appreciated the fact that I wasn’t rolling over and quitting. I still wanted to lead, be involved, and make a difference for the thousands of young men and women who serve.
You talked about how your team had a lot of respect for you. After your accident, did you have a hard time gaining that respect? What did you do to help them be more comfortable with you, still respect you as their leader, take not necessary orders but allow you to direct them? How did you gain that level of respect from them?
Number one, sense of humor. Everybody was uncomfortable. I will be honest with you. I probably was at that time the only senior flag officer in the United States Navy who was physically handicapped to the degree that I was. I can laugh at life. I can tell jokes. I can make fun of myself. I tell people all the time that I’ve got enough screws in my back to start my own Home Depot store someday. Little things that make people feel comfortable that again, “I’m still the same person here and we are going to work together.” From a leadership perspective, I’m never, “I will tell you what to do and you do it.” I’m a, “We are going to get after this together.” I try to be an inclusive leader and that didn’t change. It was how I get into the office. From that point on, nothing has changed.
How do you feel about diversity and inclusion? Not only for the government but for society as a whole now, given that you have had this experience in a wheelchair. You have mentioned the word handicapped, which I don’t consider you handicapped, which is a different discussion. We can talk about that later. I don’t like that word to be honest with you but what are your thoughts about diversity and inclusion in organizations now?
That’s what makes us work. You can talk about diversity inclusion from a variety of aspects. The color of our skin, religion, physicality and what we do. There are a variety of things but from my perspective and 35 years in the service and certainly in my new role as the CEO and President of the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation, it’s the diversity of thought. Everybody, regardless of what small subset you come from or you believe in, there’s a diversity of thought that makes us strong, rich and able to be better at what we do. It sounds cliché to say I’m a believer. It’s foundational to what we do.
One of the things that I appreciate about diversity and inclusion is understanding another person’s perspective, experience or background. There are a lot of experiences that I have been able to gain from what I have been through. I’m sure you are feeling the same way. There’s a different perspective because of your experience. Without that perception, when we don’t bring that to the table, we lose what it can do for us and how it could help, serve us and be better. I like the idea of having someone from a different background that has a different experience. As you said, that diversity of thought changes the conversation for the better. Even if their ideas are not the way we go, at least we have considered it as a possible option. I think that carries a lot of weight, in my opinion.
I will tell you a different twist on that. You talk about empathy and understanding. I can remember being in the hospital. The doctors and nurses, everybody jumps to the, “I understand what you are going through.” My wife has not even said that. Quite frankly, unless you have been in cancer treatment or a significant spinal cord injury, whatever it is, you don’t understand that. One of the other motivators for me was adaptive sports. Each of the services has different programs. The Navy’s program is the Navy Wounded Warrior.
About seven months after my injury, I’m still learning how to use the walker, doing all those things and still developing myself, I’ve got an invitation to go to an Adaptive Sports Camp. It was nothing more than introducing it to some things. We did cycling. We did seated volleyball, which is difficult for a guy who doesn’t have mastery of his legs to push around. We did rowing. After that camp, number one, I met some incredible people. That was the magic of adaptive sports for me. I was being able to plug into another group. You want to talk about a diverse group of folks, young, old, most of them were young, I was old. I was always the old one.
Trying to share ideas and learn from their experiences, I was a rookie at many things. I was a rookie at being in a wheelchair and doing adaptive sports. A long story short, I tried out for the Navy team. I ended up making the Navy team, made friends that I continue to stay in touch with, folks that I coach, they coach me, were mentors, counselors, friends and was able to go to the DoD Warrior Games. As an old man with two stars on his shoulder during his day job was fortunate enough to win a gold medal. I told somebody, “This experience is not about the gold medal. This experience is about the people that you meet and how that changes your life because somebody has always got it worse than you.” I can remember vividly a triple amputee who would be in the swimming pool. It wasn’t how fast he went. The fact was he was doing it, trying and going. I told the person who interviewed me, “It’s not about that medal but if you try to take it from my cold lifeless hands, you are going to fail.”
I have been around a lot of individuals who have had experiencing physical challenges like myself and you. All of them are very amazing people. I remember when I was in college, one of my best friends, his name is Bert had cerebral palsy. He got around on a scooter, he could barely walk but he was an amazing guy. He got up every single day and the things that he had to deal with daily. It was beyond what I had to deal with and I was dealing with a lot, in my opinion. I can remember other people in my dorm were dealing with CP, Cerebral Palsy, at different levels. Some more extreme than others. There are all kinds of stuff. These individuals would get up every single day and they would go through what they had to go through with a smile. These were very smart individuals with bright futures. They were game–changers. They were doing a lot of amazing things that you don’t hear about in society.
One of the things that bothered me about it was the fact that they will call it handicapped, going back to that word. I remember doing a talk on this a few years ago and I started doing some research because I was doing a talk about the word handicapped and what it meant. What I found with it meant incapacitated or powerless. When I looked at these individuals, I didn’t see that. I have seen that they had a physical challenge. When I look at you, I don’t see incapacitated and powerless. I see a leader, someone who’s out charging forward, creating a path for someone else, and being an example. That’s how I see myself. I have never adopted that as my identity. I couldn’t call myself that. I wouldn’t necessarily like it when other people would identify me with that or label me like that. In the Navy, I have had a career as a civilian with the Navy and I still do. I served on the Individuals with Disability Advisory Board. We were responsible for hiring, retaining employees and removing barriers for employees with these individuals with disabilities.
I thought to myself, we are hiring employees that we are asking employees to come work for us and they would talk about, “We are looking for individuals that are handicapped or individuals that are disabled.” The very tone and nature of that. I may be taking a little bit further than necessary because I’m an individual with a disability but I felt the need to change the tone and flavor of that because you are not looking for a person by that definition. This is an amazing person who’s dealing with obstacles and challenges you may never, ever have to deal with and they are doing it. They are even putting themselves in a position for you to consider them for employment given their circumstances. To me, we are missing that. That’s admirable and something that we should recognize but yet we are calling them incapacitated and powerless. What are your thoughts about that?
It’s a great point. I use that word but I don’t frequently use it. I don’t consider myself handicapped. The word I have the hardest saying is paraplegic. By definition, that’s what I am but I don’t consider myself. I still have some bucket list items. I’m going to relearn how to ski. I’m going to jump out of an airplane. It will be a tandem jump, trust me. Life is not over. I still feel that I’ve got a lot of things that I want to do, number one. A lot of things that I can contribute. Your point there goes back to how I approach this. It’s not about mobility or ability. It’s about what you have up here, what you have in your heart and what you can bring to an organization to a group. I was fortunate the Navy looked at me for my abilities, not my disability.
I served for 2.5 years after my accident before I decided it was the right time for me to retire. It didn’t take long. I had several folks coming to me for other job opportunities. I have been fortunate there to be able to demonstrate to folks what it means. You are right. It takes me a little longer to get dressed in the morning. I use my walker to get out to a pickup truck, I’ve got hand controls in it and I would drive myself into work. I’m as normal as anybody else. It takes me a little longer to get there and a little winded by the time I get to my desk or have my first cup of coffee in the morning but I’m in the fight and I’m contributing.
We talked about what’s normal. Normal is what’s normal for you and me. Normal is not a standard that we apply to everybody. Everybody has a norm. That’s a mindset that we can adopt. What would you say to individuals that are experiencing some level of adversity or challenge? You seem to have graciously overcome mentally and emotionally traumatic events in your life, whereas some people may be struggling with that. They can’t make that decision that you made in the first two days of your accident. What would you say to that individual?
My advice and my mantra go back to that time when I was at the Naval academy and I had that academic advisor convinced me I couldn’t do something. I had an opportunity while I was on active duty to talk to a retired Senator Bob Kerrey, who was in Vietnam Special Operating Forces. He suffered a significant wound and was awarded the Medal of Honor. We were talking about something else. He had heard of my story. We went and he asked me how I was doing. He had a below–knee amputation, I believe it was. Following his injury, people would say, “There are going to be lots of things you can’t do.” He said, “No.” He spun it around. I think that’s important. It’s about perspective and your attitude. He said, “I can do more things now than I could before I was injured. I can do things differently and open my mind up.”
Based on that academic counselor and my doctor is telling me I will never be able to do something, I always told people, “Don’t let anybody convince you what you can’t do. Show them what you can do.” As far as I’m concerned, the sky is the limit. Stay positive. Keep working hard, set incremental goals for yourself. Number one, pick up the phone. Every opportunity I get, I sit down and talk to somebody, I shake their hand and I say, “If you ever have a bad day, give me a call. I don’t care if I’m an old guy or you are young, you’ve got a rank or a position. We are friends and we are in this together.”
With that being said, how can people connect with you if they wanted to learn more about you?
I’m wide open. My personal email is Kyle.Cozad85@Gmail.com. I’m on LinkedIn as well. Please reach out if you want to talk and learn more. I love to come to tell this story because it’s an important story to tell. When I was in the Navy, quite frankly, the Navy wanted to protect me. They didn’t want to put me out there in public. They didn’t want me to do things. I want to say thanks for this opportunity. Every chance I get, I tell the story. It’s not a sad story. This is a story of hope, perseverance and resilience. We all have adversity in our lives, whether or not you have adversity, it’s how you go after adversity, how you handle that, how you maintain that positive attitude. I love to talk to people. I love to get out and tell the story. I’m more than happy to come to visit you at the right time or place and tell my story to your folks.
I appreciate that because I believe that when adversity comes, that’s when the game starts. It comes down to who are you going to be in that time and this space of adversity because that makes the difference. You made a decision that you are going to be the guy that proves people wrong. You are going to be the guy that sets the example and shows people what you can do. That’s it. That’s your profile, your identity and what shows up when you walk into the room. That’s you. We all have to come to grips with that, make that decision and ask ourselves, “Who are we going to be in this, regardless of what anyone says?” We have control of who we are. We can decide to be the guy or the girl, the man or the woman that’s going to overcome and defeat the experience and come out of victory or turn your experience into something positive.
I love what you said, “I’m a guy whose glass is always full.” When you take on that identity, you take on that attitude, regardless of the situation, my glass is always more than halfway full. That sets the tone. This is the position we are in, this is where we are, this is how we see ourselves and we are going to march forward with that attitude, that way of thinking and being, more importantly, I appreciate that, Kyle. You are an inspiration and a game–changer. There are a lot that we can learn from you, your career and what you are doing. Thank you for your service. I appreciate you and your service with the Navy and everything about you. Thank you for coming to the show and sharing with us as well. You have an amazing story. Before we go, you have given us so much but if there’s one thing that you can leave with us that would help us bounce back from adversity, dominate our challenges and win in the game of life, what would that be?
I will repeat myself here, the risk of being redundant but never let anyone tell you what you can’t do. Go out there, work hard, be resilient, strong, positive and show them what you can do because we’ve all got that within ourselves, it’s just a matter of finding that. It’s a matter of being strong and courageous. I would be lying to you if I didn’t say every now and then you have a bad day and you say, “I remember when I could do this.” That doesn’t slow me down because I have come a long way in the past three years but I’m not done yet.
Do you feel that this experience that you have had in your life has caused or compelled you to bring forward something about yourself that you wouldn’t have ever thought about bringing forward? If so, what is that thing?
It’s a demonstration. As I told you, the good Lord puts us in a place for a reason. I feel that my reason is to number one, make the most of it. Get out there, prove to people what I can do, show them, demonstrate that. Somebody called me this a long time ago, “Show them that relentless positivity in everything that you do.” My purpose now is not to make a paycheck Monday through Friday. It’s to get out and help others who are or have gone through similar things that I have. I look forward to those opportunities to get out and talk to any audience, whether it’s 1 person or 500 people to be able to encourage them because we’ve all got adversity in our lives.
Kyle, thank you again for coming to the show. This has been a pleasure. I’m sure the audience is going to benefit from this. I appreciate you.
Thanks, Rodney, likewise. I appreciate what you do. You’ve got a positive message here that’s important for folks to know. I’m sorry it took us so long to connect.
No worries. Thank you again.
There you have it, folks. Another successful episode. You guys have heard me say many times over that your challenge, the obstacles and adversity that you face is not only for you. Sometimes, we take it personally that, “I’m going through this, I’m dealing with this, I can’t do this, I can’t do that.” It may be true but yet what you don’t know is how you going through that, you experience that and more importantly, you overcome that. How it’s affecting someone else? I believe that the challenges and obstacles that we have are for others. I believe that what I have been through, what I and Kyle have gone through, some things are for him. There are some rewards that he gets and I’ve got from going through that experience. Some things haven’t been so great from that experience but overall it has had a positive impact on a lot of people’s lives. That’s what I mean when I say it’s not just for you.
What’s important is that you go through it in a positive attitude, you find a way to get to the other side of that for you so that you can experience life at a higher level, be a better version of yourself but at the same time, you never know who’s looking and who’s going through something similar. They are trying to figure out how to get on the other side and you are their inspiration. You are their guide. You are the beacon. You are their lighthouse. We must realize the things that we are going through are going to affect someone else. We want to go through those things gracefully and realizing that it’s an opportunity to be a better version of ourselves because of what we go through but also, be that beacon of hope for someone else. Until next time. Peace and love.
- Kyle Cozad – LinkedIn
- Onward Podcast
- The Admiral Who Leads From The Wheelchair – Article
- Naval Aviation Museum Foundation
- Navy Wounded Warrior
- Adaptive Sports Camp
About Rear Adm. Kyle Cozad
Rear Adm. Kyle Cozad graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1985. Cozad’s career centered around aviation training and operations within the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance (MPR) community where he commanded at the squadron, wing, and group levels. Cozad served extensively as an instructor pilot in multiple operational tours and completed two tours with VP-30, the P-3 Fleet Replacement Squadron, and with the Canadian Air Force’s 404 Squadron in Greenwood, Nova Scotia, as a CP-140 exchange instructor pilot.
Ashore, served in a variety of diverse leadership positions at the Navy Personnel Command; as a senior fellow on the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Strategic Studies Group (XXXII); and notably, as the 22nd Senior Director of the White House Situation Room. As a flag officer, Cozad served on the Joint Staff as Vice Director, Regional, Force Management and Future Operations (J-35); Commander, Joint Task Force Guantanamo; Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Group; and as the 9th Commander of the Naval Education and Training Command. After retiring from Naval Service, Cozad joined the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation as President and Chief Executive Officer in October 2020.