Unarmored Talk

Overcoming Promotion Stressors: Insights from U.S. Army Vet. Michael Harris

January 29, 2024 Michael Harris Episode 105
Unarmored Talk
Overcoming Promotion Stressors: Insights from U.S. Army Vet. Michael Harris
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

From military service to impactful community leadership, Michael Harris, International President of Mu Beta Phi Military Fraternity Inc., takes us through his inspiring transition. Discover how he navigated and overcame numerous promotion stressors and learn about the fraternity's steadfast commitment to supporting veterans.

This episode isn't just about listening to a success story; it's about delving into Michael's thought process and understanding how he maximized unexpected opportunities, standing firm in his decisions to drive positive change. Join us to gain insights that could shape your path to leadership and personal growth.

Guest Links:
Mu Beta Phi Military Faternity Inc. - http://www.mbphikings2017.org/

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Mario P. Fields:

Welcome back to unarmor talk podcast. Thank you so much for listening and watching each episode and continue pleased to share with your friends and family members and colleagues, and don't forget to leave a rating or review if you feel this is a awesome show. And you can connect to all of my social media on the parade deck Just look in a show notes or you can put in the search engine Mario P Fields parade deck and get all access To my social media. Well, let's get ready to interview another guest who is willing to remove their armor to help other people. Everyone, welcome back to unarmor talk podcast. I'm still your host in 2024 as we go to rapidly approach year number four of producing amazing episodes Mario P Fields and before I get to today's amazing guests. Thank you, guys again for sharing, subscribing and listening to each episode. We're on 100 and four episodes and out of the hundred and three previous, including this one, every time you guys listen, download and share, you are generating charitable dollars that supporting still serving incorporated. And just so you guys know, last year we raised $10,000. I don't have a little button and every year our goal is $10,000. So continue to support us, continue to watch, share, donate if you can and let's make a difference in Pitt County, north Carolina, for students and low-income communities. Help me break that cycle of poverty, man, the student development with those positive skills. I'm done with the admin.

Mario P. Fields:

Let's get to our amazing guests. Who's willing to remove his armor to help other people? Today we have a United States Army veteran. Now you know the deal, man. You know I'm ringed, so you got none against the army. I know it's okay. And he is the International President of Mu beta five Military fraternity incorporated Michael Harris. What's going on, my friend?

Michael Harris:

Nothing, much more. Thank you for having me, man. I really appreciate it. Look forward to the opportunity, man, and sit here, you know, have a conversation with you and in your viewers, man, and I see we can uh, you know, get some things moving and get some interesting people in here and help you Reach that goal that you're looking for.

Mario P. Fields:

Right, right, it's same same for you what you guys are doing, and it seems like we've been trying to get this episode since 1788, man, but now we're here and we, and we're about to do it. So can you tell the listeners and viewers, michael, just a little bit about yourself?

Michael Harris:

Absolutely, um 54. Mary, four kids, two grandchildren Served in it. You know, united States Army for four years. I joined straight out of high school in 1987, did four years, I got out in 1991 and the military provided a slingshot for me into, you know, the workforce. Coming back, you know I spent the first 15 years as a correctional officer. The last 15 years I spent as a parole agent, all in the state of Pennsylvania. The military prepares you for a, for a job like that With it, which is you know to, and me being at the parole office is how I got to me beta-5, you know, friend of mine's. Uh, he a co-worker minds. He joined in the summer of 2018 and he came back and was telling me about it and I was like man, I don't have time for this fraternity stuff. Man, ain't nobody gonna have me in school days doing nothing I mean supposed to be doing no. So that's just a small bit about me. Nothing much, man.

Mario P. Fields:

Man with a couple of things, and you guys know I learned more about the guest on the interview Then I do prior to it. Fields families from Pennsylvania, you know. So first of all, you know you got a special place in my heart. My dad is from pennsyp. All my uncles, I mean the majority of the fields family, is from Pennsylvania. And then you know to go from the United States Army to correctional, you know officer, to now an International president of a military fraternity. Tell us a little bit about the fraternity and then I want to talk about this, this journey. Talk to us, man.

Michael Harris:

Yeah, well, you know, new beta-5 military fraternity incorporated. It was a, it was a vision and idea by you know um three military Veterans and active duty service members on our founder, dr Gary Amons, retired us navy um seller um Sergeant Clifton Pyle he's a US Army veteran, I think he's still he's about to retire, I think and our Air Force tech sergeant Darren Coney. They all came together one day, man down in South Carolina, and came up with the idea that there needs to be some kind of resource or organization that can help our veterans. And they came up with the idea that, you know, maybe we can provide those resources and at the same time provide a brotherhood that could, you know, help us get to the goal of eradicating veteran homelessness. And that was the main goal you know, of Mu Beta Phi. Now it's changed over the year I shouldn't say it's changed, it's kind of improved over the years about what it is that we wanna do. We've incorporated the act of eradicating veteran homelessness. We started a youth mentor program. You know our Herkenean effort has now grown even more and the overall community service to the community as a whole is where Mu Beta Phi is now.

Michael Harris:

I can go on man for days about. You know where we're at and what we're trying to do and the accomplishments we made. But the greatest thing is, you know, seeing that we can provide a service and need for veterans that don't know. I mean, you know, as a servant, you know the veteran hasn't always been the center of the governmental focus. You know we serve our time, we come home and we kind of disappear into the abyss. You know they tell us we have things out there but no one ever provides some kind of avenue for you to get there.

Michael Harris:

And that trend has went on for so many years. And I say that because my father, united States Marine Corps veteran during this Vietnam, you know time and you know these discussions we would have when, I mean, he says you know those early veteran years. Man, you know we didn't get that attention. We didn't know we had resources. So organizations like Mu, beta, phi, that's our goal. We want to get to our veterans, want to let them know hey, we're here to help you, we're going to point you in the right direction. We may not be able to directly get you what you need, but we can find you the resources and the avenues to get to where you need to get to.

Mario P. Fields:

Right and you know, when I went on your website, I love the positive impact. I love how I was able, like you said, michael, to see the growth and just still serving. I mean, you know that's the name of a company still serving and corporate. There is another company out there that's caught still serving without the ink. So that's why I always say incorporated, but making that positive impact. You know doing a couple of years. You know one, two, three, four or 30 years and then coming out to the community and doing great things. But now. So here you are, comfortable, 54 years young, still look like you're 29,. My friend and you know, and you're this international, not local, not domestic international president. When you were offered this position or whatever, how did you feel? Were you prepared for this?

Michael Harris:

not at all. Not at all, because it wasn't. You know, when I joined the band, it wasn't my intentions to even come nowhere, even close to this. It was my strict intention and idea that I'm gonna participate as much as possible, I'm gonna provide as much insight as I possibly can, and I was gonna sit back, man, and stay in the shadows. You know, I would be the guy behind the scenes and then up front and it kind of it moved fast Because, see, when I joined in our local chapter here in Philadelphia, it was only like eight of us and we used to have a little powwow in the circle and everybody had two or three jobs to do.

Michael Harris:

I actually started off as the SAA and then we got a few more people and I became the community service director and I sat there as a community service director and that was 2018, come around 2020, it was now time for a new president for the local chapter and I said, okay, I'll do it, it ain't too much long like there. And I sat there for about a year and we had a national summons in Miami and, you know, at the time, the current elected vice president one, had some own personal issues and he had to step down. I get approached by, you know, the current president at the time and the founder asked it would I consider stepping in as in the interim basis? And I really was like boy, this is not really where my plan is supposed to. You know, take me, this is not my idea, but I felt a commitment to the fraternity that if I could fill the void, even on a temporary basis, then not a problem, I'll do it.

Michael Harris:

I sat there for the last two years and I wanna say I guess my personal impact or how people view me, is what catapulted me into the seat.

Michael Harris:

You know I would get a lot of questions hey, you're gonna run for president, hey, you're gonna do this. And I kept saying, nah, I like where I'm at, I ain't, you know, too much limelight or whatever. And but I had a conversation with you know, not only my wife and some, you know, some of the other members there that I'm close to, and it was like well, listen, you know you would be the perfect person to move our fraternity forward, man, and you shouldn't pass up opportunity. You can do great things. And so I thought about it as a whole like what I have as a leader can the fraternity use, is it gonna help us get to, you know, that goal of eradicating veteran homes. So I rolled the dice, man, and put my name on the ballot and you know, here I sit, six, six months in. I got officially seated in July at our national summit. So I'm six months in and I'm moving forward full steam ahead, man.

Mario P. Fields:

Wow, you know and I love how you mentioned the power of your personal brand, like your reputation, and how your reputation was. You know, you didn't even have to speak. Your reputation and your personal brand was doing the speaking. It was also doing the influencing of opportunities. At any point did you experience the emotion of fear? You know, could sometimes people get promoted and it could seem like a great thing, but in reality you could also have some fears associated with it. Did you have any? Oh yeah, from the.

Michael Harris:

You know what I tell you. I didn't have no fears when I was going through the process of campaigning for it. I figured, like you said, I will let my achievements that I've done speak for themselves. You know, I will let my personal demeanor and my own actions and conversations speak for itself. And once it finally set in, I'm like man now. I'm like am I gonna really be able to do this job? Am I gonna be able to live up to the expectations?

Michael Harris:

So now I had a fear about the decisions I have to make. You know, I also had a fear am I gonna lose colleagues and friends in the position? Because you know, as you go through and you become a leader, people are always happy for you, but then, when you know you have to make those harsh decisions, you can lose a lot of friends. As you move up, you know to change. So I think that was like the biggest fear that I had that the people that supported me the most, if I had to turn the ties and make a tough decision that may involve them, would they still be, you know, my friends? I think that was the biggest fear doing the job, Not necessarily doing the job, but the losing the confidence and the support of the people around me is probably what the biggest fear was.

Mario P. Fields:

Yeah, michael, that is a great point. Interesting, because when I was listening to you I even started reflecting back on my entire professional journey and I never really heard someone put it that way. And it's true that you're getting promoted to anything. It could be in a position in the private sector, in the military. You get a, you know, a promotion to the next higher rank, and you silently struggled with this fear of me and Michael were cool. Now I, michael works for me, right. So how did you and I believe this would be a great episode for a lot of folks in all industries how did you think through that, where you're responding to this emotion and not reacting in this position?

Michael Harris:

You know, after a while I didn't have to take, I took a step back and thought about it and I said to myself and I had to be completely honest that those people around me, if they're truly my friends, are truly supportive of me, then they'll have a complete understanding of the job that I have to do and why I have to make certain decisions. That may not be pleasant for everybody, but I have to think about the big picture, which is the fraternity and the organization as a whole. What's best for us all as an entire body rather than an individual. So I had to sit back and think about it like that. Then I also had to tell myself so you know, I am who I am and I'm the same person I was before I became the international president. Right, it's the exact same way I conversate, the same way I think, the same way I provide the same amount of respect that I did when I was not the president. So I would hope that that would take and people would take that and view that and that would make it a lot easier for me to adjust to, you know, being in the position and not having that fear as much. And once I got that settled in my mind, that you know, hey, I'm still the same person.

Michael Harris:

And you know they're either going to love me or hate me. I know it's a harsh thing to say, but it is really the truth. They're either going to love me or hate me. And you know the first few months, man, in the sixth month thing, you know you come in as a leader and you know you provide change. You provide new direction, new structure. And let me tell you, everybody's not happy and you get pushed back. But I have to stand. You know stand, stand on the line and keep pushing forward because there's a greater goal at the end. And you know it takes time for people to adjust to new leadership. It's working out for the most part, so I'm good right now.

Mario P. Fields:

You know, we also hear folks talk about the power of mentorship, and I love how you, you know, eloquently talked about your process of thinking through these emotions Because, again, this is on our on our talk podcast. We like to focus on to think as a choice and to react. That's natural to humans. So so, with all of that said, did you have any mentors or anyone in your network that you relied on? That also helped you navigate this new position as now the international president of Mu Beta Phi?

Michael Harris:

No, not not coming directly from from you, beta Phi. My experience through through life is what it is. I have. I've had some great leaders that I've worked for through corrections, through parole, through the military, which that I'm patterning a lot of the things that I do after them. You know I had to understand that being a leader, I want those that believe that you know to be a good leader, you've got to be able to educate those around you. You just can't say do this, do that, and not provide directions or instructions. And also you gotta lead by example. You know, in the military was always told to me that I'm never gonna tell you to do nothing that I haven't done or wouldn't do myself. That's the way I've always been. I've come across leaders that will tell people to do this and do that and they've never, ever even got close to doing what they've given directions to doing. And in the field of corrections and parole, those are dangerous situations you can get into. So I'm not gonna send you in somewhere that I have no experience in because we won't know how to deal with the situation. So that leadership there and I started going through Mubei Fonda I got to the seat now Our founder is probably the greatest mentor there is now.

Michael Harris:

I mean, he is knowledge about the organization, not just Mubei Fonda, but organizations in general, and the process and the ins and outs and the way to conversate and the directions you have. You know, I get a lot of that from him and I think that's what gets me makes it even more comfortable to sit here. But I am one of the things you mentioned about mentoring. I believe, like I said, to be a good leader, you gotta mentor those below you so they can come up to your level, because you're not gonna always be sitting here. So you gotta it's just like you know educating you gotta prepare the future to take over, because I can't sit here forever, so I have to prepare someone to come behind me. And I think that's like one of the greatest things about being a leader when you can teach other people how to be, you know, a outstanding leader.

Mario P. Fields:

Yeah, and Michael, you can see it in your bones, virtually, man, I mean, you know, being authentic, everybody, I mean Michael gave us some wonderful, wonderful tips and being authentic, be you, be yourself, be authentic. I am who I am, be consistent, and definitely, if it's not in your bones, if it's not a passion, then why? Why, people will know. And you guys, yeah, you can see it. So I know you're having fun and I'm not gonna keep you much longer or you'll invoice me I know you will, man and I have to send you a check.

Michael Harris:

No, not at all, man. I listen. This right here is I love it. I mean, I love being able to speak to you, know people, and let people know that. You know that there's we're out here. So I love coming on any opportunity I can come on on your show, man, for any reason whatsoever. Never hesitate, man, I love it. I love being able to put our experience out there my experience from UBeta 5, man and you know and get it out there. Let people know that we are here and we're at help. We're not a fad, we're not going nowhere. We're in our seventh year strong. We're playing on us being around for about a hundred years long, stronger. After that. You know your son, my grandson, my son being members of UBeta 5 somewhere down the line, cause they'll be looking to do that. So that's the overall. You know I'm looking at the future. You know, 50 years down the line, you know someone else having this conversation talking about us. You know what I mean. So here for you.

Mario P. Fields:

And I tell you everyone, the links will be in the chat so you guys can get on the website. I hope and pray that you guys get on the website. Any last tips? Any. If you had to think of one tip to give the listeners and viewers of what to do or what they can do, especially if they get promoted to do something that they didn't really expect, what tip could you give Michael? Oh, one tip.

Michael Harris:

Like you said, just be genuine, be yourself. Never don't change because of the position you in, because the person you were is how you got there. So don't let the position change. You stay genuine, stay true to yourself. You know, stick to your beliefs, stick to your guns, and it will take you far. It may not make everybody happy, but it'll take you far, cause people will know exactly where you're coming from. They'll know exactly who the person is they dealing with, cause they'll know who you are and they'll know you're a genuine person.

Mario P. Fields:

I love it, man. You guys heard it from Michael. Don't let the position change you. You change the position where you guys know the deal In a couple of weeks. If you're listening, of course, you can hear me. If you're watching on YouTube, you can see me, but until next time, you guys know how I sign off. God bless you, God bless your families and God bless your friends. Michael, be safe out there, my friend.

Michael Harris:

I appreciate you, man. Have a good one you too.

Mario P. Fields:

Thank you for listening to this most recent episode and remember you can listen and watch all of the previous episodes on my YouTube channel. The best way to connect to me and all of my social media is follow me on the Parade Deck. That is wwwparadedeckcom, or you can click on the link in the show notes. I'll see you guys soon.

Interview With Mu Beta Phi President
Leadership and Mentorship in Mu Beta