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Pacific Northwest Regional First Class Leadership Symposium

Sailors learn to balance work lives, find harmony

Photo by James Motter.

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In a room full of khaki- and black-suited petty officers first class Sailors, Chief Master Sgt. Nicholas Hollinger's service dress blues set him apart as he addressed the group May 1 during the Pacific Northwest Regional First Class Leadership Symposium at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor.

Hollinger, the Joint Base Lewis-McChord senior enlisted adviser, was invited to speak about work-life balance at the four-day seminar.

"When we talk about work-life balance, it's not all about balance," Hollinger said. "It's about harmony, and you feeling that sense of accomplishment when you go home at the end of the day, because what you did helped make the future better for the country."

Hollinger said he gets some inspiration from Jeff Bezos, Amazon's chief executive officer. He said that he felt like Bezos offered an interesting perspective - life is often out of balance, but one should learn what works for them.

Work-life balance was just one of the topics that petty officers attending the conference wanted to learn about, hoping to strengthen their skills.

"It got started a couple years ago. A couple Sailors brought up the idea that we don't do a lot of leadership training," said Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Dayton, a symposium committee member. "We have the initial leadership training when we make first class when we do PO1 (indoctrination), but that's really it."

Dayton said the group wanted to draw from the knowledge readily available in the Pacific Northwest region, since there are a lot of different leaders in the area, including other military services.

"We're always talking about Navy, Navy, Navy, but the way the military is going, we're doing more joint-operations," Dayton said. "So why not bring in someone from another branch."

The invitation to speak at the symposium is the second time enlisted leaders from JBLM have been invited to participate in the event, and it may not be the last time.

Although Hollinger may not be intimately familiar with the everyday challenges Sailors face, the Everett native said he felt honored to be invited to speak to the Sailors.

"I have three uncles (who) were in the Navy, and my grandfather was in the Navy during World War II," he said.

The chief's message appeared to be well received with nods of approval, smiles and chuckles around the conference room.

Petty Officer 1st Class Abeeku Nketsiahmills, an immigrant from Guinea who now calls Walnut, Calif., home, indicated that he would take time to consider Hollinger's advice about finding some harmony in his personal and work life.

"We all serve, but we do different things," Nketsiahmills said. "He tried in his best way to impress upon us the message he had for us, and for that I am thankful."

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