May 30, 2012 1 Comment
Do you ever wake up and feel like ditching work, or go to work, but end up not being too productive? Me too. When life is a storm raging around me, and I need shelter, a phone call or the comfort of home offer safe harbor. Though hard or upsetting, problems in the Tri-State area rarely carry any risk. My commute may suck some days, but death or dismemberment is not a major concern.
Members of the Armed Forces, and others like Firemen or Police officers make a different choice – they go into danger and risk death – without any expectation of fame and fortunate. When called, these citizens and soldiers go to work no matter how tired, no matter how unmotivated, no matter what. Soldiers sleep in ditches, or don’t sleep at all; they face bullets, bombs, and bad weather. Firemen save people while the rest of us are eating Thanksgiving dinner. Police officers confront some of the worst people society has to offer, or prevent an alcoholic from hurting himself, or someone else, by getting him to detox. I have no idea how to repay this type of selflessness other than to say thank you.
Whether risking their lives or not, members of the Armed Forces, and Police and Fire departments, demonstrate what’s possible when one makes a commitment to excellence. Seventy years ago soldiers face devastation beyond human understanding – carpet bombing civilian populations, napalmed cities, mass executions, torture. Mass conflicts required a special kind of leader, and people from all of the Allied Countries rose to the challenge .
Soldiers today confront a different type of conflict. They must now also be ambassadors, social workers, medics, and city planners. A Captain in Afghanistan may be responsible to plan combat missions; organize vaccination campaigns, and negotiate with tribal leaders. No matter the task, the men and women of the Armed Forces face difficult assignments in hostile environments where even the smallest error may be broadcast around the world moments after it happens. They persevere under these circumstances and set the standard for leadership and professionalism. Here are some common leadership principles used by the Armed Forces that have practical application in any organization:
- Lead from the front – never ask subordinates to do something you would not do yourself
- Make the right decision, not the popular decision
- Seek to bring out the best in people
- Control emotions - or the ability to make professional decisions in an emotional environment – for examples read “Black Hawk Down” or “Lone Survivor“
- Promote excellence and teamwork
- Take care of people – help them when help is needed; get the best equipment and resources available; put the needs of the group above your own
- Never quit, ever
Do the police always act with professionalism ; do soldiers ever betray their commitment to professionalism; do politicians poison the military or involve our country in dubious military efforts? Absolutely! Does this mean we should not honor the rest of the people who act selflessly everyday and risk their lives to protect our way of life? Absolutely not! I don’t know how to payback America’s servicemen and women, other than to thank them for their courage, and let them know that their efforts will not be forgotten.
How do you honor such service?
- “Black Hawk Down” – Mark Bowden
- “Lone Survivor” – Marcus Luttrell
- “We Were Soldiers Once, and Young” – Harold G. Moore and Joseph Galloway
- “It Doesn’t Take a Hero : The Autobiography of General H. Norman Schwarzkopf” – Norman Schwarzkopf
- “Imperial Grunts: On the Ground with the American Military, from Mongolia to the Philippines to Iraq and Beyond” – Robert D. Kaplan
- “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Flyboys” – James Bradley