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May 17, 2021

Self-awareness is the key to resilience according to Onward Podcast guest Dennis Volpe. A retired Naval Officer, Dennis’ leadership experience comes from serving in  numerous leadership roles to include Command at Sea. Furthermore, because of his experience with professional success as well as setbacks, he knows what it takes to live a resilient life.


Dennis currently serves as a Principal Consultant and Executive Performance and Transition Coach with the Leadership Research Institute. In addition, he’s a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and earned his Master of Science in Leadership Development from the Naval Postgraduate School.Furthermore, Dennis is a Columbia University certified Executive Coach.


Episode Highlights:


  • First, Dennis explains that change is what happens to us  - personally or professionally. And it is external.
  • Next he talks about self-awareness.
  • Emily asks Dennis how we can know if we need to be more aware.
  • Dennis says that lack of self-awareness is biggest barrier to personal and professional success.
  • Dennis is certified in emotional Intelligence. 
  • Also, he works with a coach himself.
  • It's easier to notice issues in other people and harder to see them in ourselves.
  • Coaching works because a coach can be objective and see what we don't see.
  • Next, Emily describes the first time she worked with a coach.  
  • Then, Dennis explains how he knows what success and failure feel like.
  • Dennis explains that when he was the Commander of a guided missile frigate, the ship ran aground and broke the propellor during a very high profile mission.
  • As Commanding Officer, Dennis was responsible and accountable for the incident.
  • Dennis explains Navy regulations about the responsibility and accountability of Commanding Officers in the Navy.
  • Dennis was relieved of Command and his career basically ended after a lengthy Uniform Code of Military Justice process.
  • In his mind, Dennis felt everyone he knew thought he was a failure.
  • Dennis published a LinkedIn video about losing command and realized that most people he knew weren't even aware of the incident.
  • Next, Dennis explains how he became a coach.
  • He invested in his personal and professional development by going through the Columbia University’s Coaching Program.
  • Emily and Dennis learned push energy when they worked for the military.
  • Dennis had to get comfortable getting uncomfortable and he wrote a song about resilience.
  • How does Dennis define coaching success?  
  • Dennis’ focus is on career or life transition coaching.
  • Next, Emily asks Dennis about his coaching observations over the past few years. 
  • When you transition from military, you get to pick your team for first time in life.  
  • Therefore, it’s important to know your values, priorities, and expectations.
  • Knowing your purpose is part of the resilience equation because it gives us grit and endurance when we need it.
  • Also, know your strengths and what energizes you.
  • Setting boundaries  - red lines - is important. 
  • Next, Emily gives an example of how she failed to set a red line boundary recently.
  • Also, surround yourself with people who will hold you accountable to what you say is important to you.
  • Ask for help and put your ego in the back seat.
  • Passion gives us energy but also some stray voltage. 
  • So, take your passion and put it in a box of purpose.
  • Give yourself time and space to reflect.
  • “No” is a complete sentence. Remember this when setting boundaries so you can stick to your priorities.
  • Write your priorities down and share them with people who will give you support and accountability.
  • Next, Dennis describes his ideal client.
  • Finally, Dennis talks about his book, Transition on Purpose, a personal story illustrating success, failure, and resilience.  


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