Introducing The Personal Brand of Glenn Ignazio
Updated: Sep 14
KKM was proud build the personal brand of Glenn Ignazio as he embarks on a new journey of storytelling, thought leadership, and more.
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In Life, There Are Only Small Victories
By Glenn Ignazio
The first time I saw the US Navy’s Blue Angels, I was just four years old. I watched in awe as they soared above my head, glistening in the sun, and roaring so loudly that I had to cover my ears with my hands. It was in these moments that I realized my dream to become a pilot one day. I truly felt called to the cockpit. Anyone who knows me knows that it was the one thing I was sure of growing up —and I managed to turn that dream into reality.
That dream became reality when I enlisted in the U.S. Air Force at the ripe age of 18. My parents were proud, and I was ready. For twenty-two years I served our great nation as a Special Operations and Combat Rescue Pilot, until one fateful day when I suffered from decompression sickness in an altitude chamber- the same altitude chamber that we trained in almost every day. My life’s dream came to a screeching halt and my military career ended (literally) overnight. It turned my life upside down.
Decompression sickness refers to injuries caused by a rapid change in the pressure around you. What a metaphor.
While flying high, small nitrogen bubbles left my bloodstream and got caught in the nerves in my brain, spinal cord, and major joints of my body. This caused lesions to form in my spinal cord and brain. It had a huge neurological impact on me, weakening the left side of my body while causing me to lose some peripheral vision.
My life was forever changed.
I went from practically living in the cockpit to being evicted without notice in just a short number of hours. After the accident, I had to have my left hip and part of my femur replaced, so the left side of my body consists of more metal than I ever expected it to.
After losing my ability to fly, work, and even walk, I was challenged to start from ground zero. It was the most difficult thing I have ever had to do. When faced with the challenges of navigating a new body and virtually a new life, I had to find ways to keep my momentum going and keep myself working towards the goal of getting back to a semblance of normalcy. In those moments, instead of laying out what the rest of my life was going to look like, I started with small goals. The first of which was being able to walk again. That goal was broken down into multiple achievable steps that I would eventually accomplish– starting with the assistance of a walker, graduating to a cane, and finally to walking on my own again. These small steps helped me to wake up with a goal every single morning and work hard to reach that goal, ultimately leading me to be able to walk on my own again.
Whatever challenge you may be going through right now, I want to stress the importance of small victories– setting small things in front of you that you may do every day but make you feel like you are achieving something. Instead of taking a giant leap towards a goal, take small, achievable steps that will get you to your end goal quicker and easier.
The challenge I had to overcome was learning how to walk again, but your challenge may be different. Are you struggling with depression? For you, even getting out of bed may be an objective. Celebrate that. Your next step may be to simply make yourself breakfast in the morning, or step outside and water the flowers. Those achievements should be celebrated too! The challenge you are facing may not look like mine, but I believe your personal experience is valid and your end goal can be achieved through small victories.
More often than not, I have come to realize that many people give their problems a life they do not deserve. Their problems are real, but they do not need to be focused on at the moment. Instead of focusing on the things you need to worry about in the future, focus on what is happening in your life right now. If you do not have to worry about a problem until Thursday, what are you doing worrying about it on Monday? If you want to give something life, give the good things life. What are you thankful for today? How can you show yourself love and care today?
Small victories can change your day but focusing on them can also change the trajectory of your entire life. Set achievable goals for yourself that you can reach throughout your day, and then continue on the next day and the day after that. Life is a blessing, but with all the good aspects come a lot of difficulties that can tear you down and knock you off track. If you can pick yourself up and work towards something, even something that seems so minuscule, you are getting closer to your end goal of making it out.
I believe in you. No matter what you are facing in your life right now, no matter what keeps you up at night and consumes your mind with worry, do not let it take over your life. Focus on the good, achieve small victories, and ask for help if you need it. You are going to be okay.
Glenn Ignazio is a military expert and public speaker, with experience in technology solutions for intelligence, defense, and Special Operations. His background as a Retired Air Force Special Operations commander and Defense Intelligence Technology innovator has made him a sought-after public speaker, media contributor, and inspiring storyteller.