On this fresh episode of Got Your 6, Tony Nash speaks with COL Candice Frost, commander of the US Joint Intelligence Operation Center for Cyber Command. Candice juggles many roles – mother, wife, leader, and entrepreneur.
For Candice, staying in her comfort zone was never an option. She shares the importance of taking risks and embracing challenges to grow and flourish. But as she continuously reinvents herself, one thing remains constant for her family. She shares life and leadership lessons she learned from West Point and the military, her new world of cybersecurity, and her divorce – which she considers her biggest failure that ultimately led to her greatest success.
Wearing many different hats, Candice firmly believes in the need for balance.
“Like anything in life, I love the surfing analogy: it’s all about staying up on the board, and it takes a LOT of balance.”
She believes in going out of your comfort zone, subscribing to former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote: “Do one thing every day that scares you.”
A creative and a “go with the flow” type of person, Candice found her days at West Point to be challenging – the highly regimented life, unending rules, and working with “complete rock stars” on the track and field and marathon team. But she embraced all these and saw opportunities for learning and growth.
“Everywhere you go in life, the more you step out of your traditional bubble and into the unknown…. you can grow and do so many different things. But you have to take that first step.”
Uncomfortable situations, she says, develop grit and bring out a new side of an individual.
Of Priorities, Reinvention, Lifelong Learning
One of the books that was life-altering to her is John Steinbeck’s The Pearl, a classic novel about a pearl diver named Kino who finds a precious pearl and is transformed by the greed and evil it attracts. Candice says the book gives terrific life lessons, including determining your priorities and “making sure you carry that with you throughout life.”
One thing remains constant in her life: her family. These are the people that matter the most to her, no matter what.
Another book she has read more than once is the New York Times and Wall Street Journal Bestseller Radical Candor: How to Be A Kick Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott, whose speeches and interviews Candice also frequently listens to. The book provides her insights on “how to adapt, reinvent, and grab the best talents” in her field.
Candice says she consistently reads up on the latest cyberspace news and trends, including cryptocurrency. She likens the experience to learning a foreign language – something that keeps her mind agile.
To continuously improve herself, Candice shares this actionable advice: spend 30 minutes to an hour each day doing research or reading to advance your skills and prepare for the future.
“It’s just making sure that you look at every single day: What am I learning? What am I doing to advance myself mentally so that I can be prepared for what’s next?”
“People that are very comfortable where they’re at, I worry for that because our world is so rapidly changing.”
In her early career, Candice says she was very forward-leaning and a bit impatient.
Now, she says she has learned to give people grace. She has also learned to distinguish between what is important and urgent.
“Giving people the ability to understand that not everything needs to be done right now, right here. There are moments when you have to roll up yourselves. But separating the important from the urgent, that has come to me.”
She also highlights the importance of empathy as a leader because it opens your world in many different ways.
“If you could understand and walk in someone else’s shoes, you’re a much better leader; you’re a much better person overall because you can have empathy with what they’re going through.”
Her Biggest Failure
Candice opens up about her biggest failure – her divorce, which also led her to her biggest success and a second chance at love.
She recalls going through pain and self-reflection after divorcing her former husband, who was suffering from PTSD. She says the ordeal made her truly understand her priorities in life.
Owing to her experience, she shares this piece of advice with others in similar situations: Get them the help they need but know that they, too, need to help themselves.
“So many of us in the military, we think we can personally fix everything ourselves. We can fix this or that or another person – that’s really hard to do. If you’ve got someone that’s going through a really tough emotional mental disorder, getting them help is incredibly important, but also knowing that it’s their decision to kind of walk their own journey.”
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