Advancing National Service

The Military Gave This Veteran the Permission Slip She Needed to Lead

November 28, 2014
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The Military Gave This Veteran the Permission Slip She Needed to Lead
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The Got Your 6 Storytellers exemplify all that veterans have to offer.

From leading the 100,000 Homes Campaign to being recognized by the White House as a Champion of Change to founding the Billions Institute, an organization committed to supporting new solutions to global problems, Becky Kanis has committed her life to making bad things better.

Her motivation stems from one moment, which she shares in her Got Your 6 Storytellers talk. When she was a lieutenant in the 25th Infantry Division, a U.S. Army division in Hawaii, every single link in the communications system went from green to red. At three in the morning, Kanis stood at the colonel’s door — and with a knock, knock, knock — woke her up and explained the situation.

“She literally poked me in the chest and she said ‘un-f*** this lieutenant,’” Kanis says. The colonel could have kicked a trashcan; she could have micromanaged. But instead, she gave Kanis permission to fix the problem.

Kanis says that in order to do our part to make the world a better place, we should ask ourselves three big questions: What do you really want? What are you willing to let go of? And what lights up your heart? Kanis’s talk centers on how she has applied those questions and pursued answers to them in her own life. And it explores how we can all give ourselves permission slips to un-f*** things.

While her seven minutes onstage includes a lot of laughs, there is also a moment leaves the audience in awe. Kanis displays two images of a formerly homeless man named Ed Givens. First, he appears drunk, with his back against a brick wall, and later he appears in a suit at a party the White House threw to celebrate the success of the work that Kanis and others did to address homelessness.

“This is the kind of change that I know in my bones is possible in the world,” Kanis says. Watch the video, then join Kanis in her call to action to un-f*** big things together.

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