Under certain circumstances, profanity provides relief denied even to prayer.” Mark Twain summarizes the crux of the leader dilemma I found myself in while deployed to Iraq: when is it acceptable to compromise important organizational values to lessen the hardship of an extreme operating environment? The issue arose at the crossroads of a continuous workday in a harsh environment, a new leader assuming responsibility, and the escaping element that music provides.
In these waning moments of 2017, take a moment to consider a number…67,108. You’ve never before had to ponder 67,108, yet it has significance in your life. In fact, it’s existence has universal meaning to all of us and reveals an important lesson if we pause to reflect on it.
The holidays are always associated with presents and the positive feelings associated with both giving and receiving a gift. Recently as I was unpacking holiday boxes and trimming the tree, I grew nostalgic reflecting on the ornaments given to me by my Leaders across various assignments. As a new leader of an organization, this year I was responsible for creating and sharing this year’s ornament.
If you’re reading this, you already know how important continual learning is for personal and professional development. There is no growth without quality input – period. I get my input from specifically tailored email subscriptions, my Twitter feed, podcasts, websites, and books.
While I can’t keep pace with the likes of Nate Finney or Joe Byerly at From the Green Notebook…who, by the way, has a Reading of the Month newsletter you should be following…I was able to knock out a few good ones this year. Many I listened to on Audible, which you should check out.
Wait, did I just accuse you of being afraid? After all, we are leaders who face grave danger in training and combat aren’t we? If it is not fear, then how do we explain why our people are not being counseled? Some might see it differently, but I argue that too many of us have either never experienced counseling or been counseled only a few times in our careers. In a career spanning 27 years, I could count on one hand the number of times I was counseled effectively, meaning my boss invested time working with me to identify the obstacles standing in the way of my growth and advancement.
The pivotal moments are easy to spot: the shot on goal or diving catch with a just few seconds left in the game; the final interview for the position you’ve always wanted; your first day in command. We prepare ourselves for these moments. We practice and rehearse and refine, hoping that when the pressure is on, we’ll emerge victorious.
Finding inspiration to perform during these key milestones is typically easy. What’s not easy is finding inspiration on your 112th day in command. Or on a Wednesday afternoon about to start your second workout of the day. Or when you’re still 37 pounds away from your goal weight and your body physically craves a cheeseburger.
Discovering inspiration in these moments is not easy, but nothing worthwhile will ever happen unless we can find the daily motivation to take small step after small step in the direction of our goals. This motivation is everywhere, but are we plugged into it?
Every few years throughout your Army career, your HRC Assignment Officer will contact you to gather input about your next assignment. “Rank the following duty stations from 1 to 35.” Although you get a vote, sometimes it feels like that vote doesn’t count for much. That’s because the routine assignment process can be very subjective, based on the needs of the branch, timing, and many other factors. (read more about HRC here)
The process for selecting Lieutenant Colonels and Colonels for Centralized Selection List (CSL) command and key billets is not one of those routine times. Prior to the CSL board, each eligible officer has the opportunity to submit billet preferences and those preferences directly affect assignment outcomes more than any other time in your career. As such, it is important for officers to thoughtfully consider their preferences.
In the midst of a pleasant two-week road trip with my family, I observed something of note. Interrupting my view of the rolling grasslands of central Oregon and the twisting turns of California’s Highway 101, were “Adopt-A-Highway” signs. Standard issue: small, square. Oregon’s were green. You’ve seen them. Some person or group pays the state for the responsibility of keeping this particular mile clean and in return, gets free advertising.