U.S. Army Major General Linda L. Singh: Facing Adversity, Conquering Fear
Linda L. Singh
Thrown out of her home through no fault of her own, Linda was a high school dropout, working at a pretzel shop to survive. A display table in the mall for the U.S. Army caught her attention and led to a conversation that changed the trajectory of her life.
Major General Linda L. Singh made a choice to do things differently and to stand out. No matter what obstacles she faced, she would not let fear control her destiny. Never content with mediocrity or being too comfortable, she is always in the process of transforming herself into the best self she can be. Her book, Moments of Choice: My Path to Leadership, is a true story of how a girl from humble beginnings, who experienced abuse and homelessness, rose to become a Major General in the U.S. Army and an executive with a leading global professional services company.
How Did You Start Using Your Talents?
Simply surviving on the streets as a homeless teenager challenged all of Linda’s instincts and natural abilities. Through no fault of her own, she was “asked to leave” her home after she reported being sexually abused by a sibling. She turned a potentially devastating life event into a search for a way out. Facing her situation frankly— “It is what it is”—she never completely lost her belief that life could and would get better. She became adept at facing adversity head on, without losing hope.
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
After dropping out of high school to support herself, Linda, recalls, “I was working at a mall pretzel shop and met up with an Army National Guard recruiter. I was interested in what they were displaying at their table. He started a conversation with me. That conversation led to a whole new door opening for me. Soon I joined the Army National Guard. Basic training allowed me to test my limits and find something new in me that I didn’t realize existed. I had leadership skills within me, but they were very raw. The Army brought out those skills.” Through that connection, she met her future husband, earned her high school diploma and a college degree, and completed Officer Candidate School (OCS), setting her on the path that led to becoming a Major General.
The Most Powerful Lessons Learned?
“When you are doing things that allow you to leverage your strengths and you get into that rhythm, things work really well. I think we have to pay attention to what our hearts and minds are telling us in terms of what we enjoy doing. Until you get to that, you’re not going to be happy in any work environment. I know that I’ve had to deal with challenges just because I’m female. Yes, those things do happen. But I would have to say that at every new opportunity, I found just as many supporters as there were naysayers.”
Steps to Success from Linda L. Singh
1. Pay attention to what your heart and your mind are telling you about what you enjoy doing.
2. Intentionally set aside time for personal reflection focused on finding what you gravitate toward that makes you happy.
3. Consider working with a coach. A coach can often see things you can’t see for yourself.
On Her Bookshelf
Own the Room: Discover Your Signature Voice to Master Your Leadership Presence, by Amy Jen Su and Muriel Maignan Wilkins
StrengthsFinder 2.0, by Tom Rath
Women Don’t Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation–and Positive Strategies for Change, by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever
Putting Your Talent to Work: Rediscovering the Real You in You, by Ode A. Idoko
Moments of Choice: My Path to Leadership, by Linda L. Singh
Connecting With Linda L. Singh
Free “Leadership Folio,” by signing up for it on her website.
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Careers: Army Officer