28 January, 2004

On Leadership


It would probably surprise many people how I use the knowledge I gained in the military to make my way through civilian life.
Many people, automatically assume that when I use the terms ‘leadership’ and ‘counseling’ that it means that I think everyone is in my army or something. No, it just means that this is what I did through many formative years, and I still use the lingo that I picked up.
However, if I can share with you the definition of leadership, I think you might see how simple it is to take the lessons learned from these manuals and apply it to situations not martial in nature.
Leadership: the actions taken to persuade others to willingly accomplish the mission by providing purpose, direction, and motivation.
  • Purpose is just the ‘why’ of what we are doing.
  • Direction is just the ‘how’ of what we are doing.
  • Motivation is just the ‘why in the hell do I want to do what you say’ of what we are doing.
Name me one group that doesn’t need to know where it is going, how it is going to get there, and why it is going in the first place. I think that the principals of leadership communication and counselling can be used in all walks of life.
Having said that, I will submit that there needs to be a leader in just about any endeavor. For instance, in the kitchen, there should be a head cook. Or at least a rotating head cook. This should be the best cook, or the one most able to cook what is on the menu. Or, as is often the case, at least the one who is there. There is a saying, ‘when in charge, take charge’. That is not so different than assuming responsibility for ones own happiness, or ones breakfast.
I think it is quite a good Tao to have areas of responsibility clearly outlined in any given relationship that requires maintenance. I am not able to fully cover my lane (group of targets, please excuse all the military metaphors, it is how I think) if I am concerned about someone elses lane. An efficient unit, regardless if it is a parental unit or a military death squad, should
all know what their respective responsibilities are, as well as the jobs and duties of the rest of their unit. The ball will always drop; it is not about placing blame, it is about being able to pick up the pieces quickly and carry on the mission.
Equality in a relationship does not mean that I am as good a cook as my wife. She is a superior cook. I am a good organizer and planner. We are an efficient team because our strengths compliment each other, and help to overcome our weaknesses (as a unit; I still can’t cook as well as she, but I have learned. Kids won’t starve).
I am a better driver, she is a better gardener, I am the better fighter, she is the better peacemaker, I am the better lyricist, she is the better singer. Equality is not the same as congruence. We are a team, that makes us equal. It will never make me the better cook.
I do not think that a patriarchal type marriage is the way to go. (with the emphasis on the Obey and Submit parts) I do, however, consider Hyacinthe and I to be a command group, with she as the Commander, and me as the Top. (That is Top as in First Sergeant, not Top as in BDSM, you sickos) The things I learned about acting as an efficient command group allow me to be, I think, a better father. And a better husband. And a better priest.
We Were Soldiers Once, and Young was a great book, and Mel did a good job turning part of it into a movie. One of my favorite lines in the movie was in response to the Louie who had just become a father. Mel said this about being a leader and a father: “I like to think that being good at one makes me better at the other.” I like to think that, too. I am a father to my platoon just as surely as I am a leader to my son. Not all of either to either but a little bit of both to both.
Doesn’t mean I am the best. It just means that I took what I could learn, and I apply it where I can. Take what is useful, discard what is not, leave with that which is uniquely yours. Jeff Kun Do, if you will. I am still learning. All I have learned as an adult I learned through the eyes of a soldier and a leader. Should I discount my Truths merely because they wear camouflage?
If I were to discard something just because I learned it in the military I would be just as foolish as if I were to take as gospel something just because it was told to me in Sunday school.
I try not to be the Great Santini, but I am who I am.
*if it’s stupid but it works, it ain’t stupid*

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