Archive for the ‘Opinion or Personal thoughts and Concepts’ Category

The Leader and Worry

September 3, 2012

The Pathway to Fear

311 iran ship

Happy is the man who has broken the chains which hurt the mind,
and has given up worrying once and for all.
Ovid (43 BC – 18 AD)
Roman poet

311 iran shipDuring the WWII Burma Campaign, Col. Charles N. Hunter was the true commander of Galahad – the code name for the U.S. Army 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), better known as Merrill’s Marauders. Colonel Charles N. Hunter had been with Galahad from the beginning, first as its ranking officer, later as its second ranking officer after the addition of General Merrill. Then, when General Merrill suffered a heart attack, it was left to Colonel Hunter to command it during its greatest trials; because of this, Colonel Hunter was the individual most responsible for Galahad’s record of achievement.

In the ominous atmosphere at Hsamsingyang, one of Colonel Hunter’s officers asked, “Aren’t you worried for fear we’ll be trapped by the Japs coming up on the east? Don’t you ever get scared?” General Hunter, who set down the principle that an officer should keep his fears in his foxhole, silently contemplated the soldiers of the 3rd Battalion S-2, then replied, “Wait ’til you’ve had twins.”


Worry is the interest paid by those who borrow trouble.
George Washington

United States President

Worry is a destructive force, one that every leader must resist. When a leader indulges in worry, problems feed on themselves. We need a definition for worry so that we all agree on what it means. Worry is to give way to anxiety, unease, or fear; to dwell on difficulties or troubles. Worry is anxiety or uncertainty concerning actual, potential, or even imagined problems. Worry sees both real and nonexistent problems, and sees them as much larger than they are. Worry offers nothing positive, regardless of any situation. Worry is worse than useless.

Except for those fearless soldiers (none of whom I would want at my side in combat; fearlessness is a dangerous psychosis), all of us have experienced worry and anxiety. Most of us, however, aren’t aware of just how destructive worry really is.

Here are some very real and serious consequences of worry:

  • it creates problems, and destroys solutions
  • it can turn the most courageous man into a coward
  • it is a very dangerous mental state that feeds on itself
  • it is mental torture every bit as bad as physical torture, and it is always getting worse
  • it is easy to worry; it becomes a destructive habit that is very difficult to break
  • it causes self-hate, which also becomes a destructive habit that is very difficult to break
  • it results in unhappiness, which leads to feelings of worthlessness and destructive behavior, both to oneself and to others
  • it hides all that is good in life, and corrupts what it cannot hide
  • it creates enormous frustration
  • it drives away all who would help
  • worry results in total inaction, which always ends in disaster

What worries you controls you.


For a leader consistently to be without worry, he must be highly motivated, as motivation counteracts worry. Worry causes inaction, whereas motivation causes action. Action solves problems before they become worrisome.


There is a great difference between worry and concern. A worried person only sees problems, and a concerned person solves problems.


Concern should drive us into action and not into a depression.
No man is free who cannot control himself.

Pythagoras (c. 570 BC – c. 495 BC)

Greek mathematician and philosopher


A leader must know the differences between worry and concern if he is to realize when concern begins to become worry. Some crucial indicators that this change may be taking place are:

  • worry distracts; concern is attentive
  • worry prevents planning; concern enables planning
  • worry prevents clarity; concern enables clarity
  • worry gives up; concern keeps trying
  • worry overwhelms; concern takes it step by step
  • worry turns inward; concern turns outwards

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of life is learning mental self-control – control over what we think, and how we think. Self-control is necessary regardless of the task. We are what we have done, and what we think. If we think wrong, disaster invariably follows. Self-control banishes worry.


The most important difference between worry and concern is summed up in one concept – fear. Worry causes fear; concern creates courage.


When we have nothing to worry about we are not doing much, and not doing much may supply us with plenty of future worries.

Chinese proverb

A leader must never be idle. It causes loss of discipline, as well as trouble. Most important, it creates fear, which can become completely debilitating. A leader will use knowledge, wisdom, boldness, discipline, principles, and motivation to overcome fear.

A leader has the proper attitude. In a so-called “natural leader” this attitude is inborn; but it can be consciously developed. Whether innate or acquired, the result is the same. He must always be developing solutions, because problems are always getting in the way. A leader must never attempt to solve all problems at once; instead, he must solve tomorrow what he cannot solve today.

Many simple things can help fight off worry. Always be grateful whenever it’s warranted – if you begin to worry, remember that there a many who would jump at the chance to help you. Worry makes every situation worse. Let your thoughts control your emotions instead of letting you emotions control your thoughts. Help people who need it – not only is it kind and thoughtful, it’s eye-opening, as well, because you’ll see you don’t have as much to worry about as you thought. You’re also doing something very positive, and that creates courage.

The next time worry begins, examine your situation rationally, not emotionally. You will see that either your situation isn’t as bad as worry said it was; or, if it is actually that bad, you’re a step ahead because you’ve already begun formulating a solution.

Without being explicit on the subject, one of the best commentaries on the relationships among concern, worry, and fear is in the following blank verse sestet:

Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.
William Shakespeare

Julius Caesar: Act 2, Scene II

Worry doesn’t help tomorrow’s troubles, but it does ruin today’s happiness.







Worry is like a rocking chair – it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.


When I look back on all the worries I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which never happened.

Winston Churchill (1874 AD-1965 AD)
British politician



Do you remember the things you were worrying about a year ago? How did they work out? Didn’t you waste a lot of fruitless energy on account of most of them? Didn’t most of them turn out all right after all?
Dale Carnegie (1888 AD-1955 AD)
American writer



Nothing in the affairs of men is worthy of great anxiety.

Plato (427 BC-347 BC)
Greek philosopher



When we have nothing to worry about we are not doing much, and not doing much may supply us with plenty of future worries.

Chinese proverb



Do not worry; eat three square meals a day; say your prayers; be courteous to your creditors; keep your digestion good; exercise; go slow and easy. Maybe there are other things your special case requires to make you happy, but my friend, these I reckon will give you a good lift.

Abraham Lincoln (1809 AD-1865 AD)
United States President



Early in my business career I learned the folly of worrying about anything. I have always worked as hard as I could, but when a thing went wrong and could not be righted, I dismissed it from my mind.

Julius Rosenwald



Fear nothing but what thy industry may prevent; be confident of nothing but what fortune cannot defeat; it is no less folly to fear what is impossible to be avoided than to be secure when there is a possibility to be deprived.

Francis Quarles

Naiveté In Leadership

June 6, 2012

“To be ignorant of one’s ignorance is the malady of the ignorant.”

– Amos Bronson Alcott (1799-1888) American educator


Naiveté in leadership has changed the course of history many times and not to its’ favor. Naiveté creeps into all our lives at one time or another with painful consequences and we must learn to guard against it if we want to avoid life’s harsh lessons.

First I think to get going it would be best to define Naiveté in Leadership simply as “not knowing what is going on.” There are different causes for Naiveté in Leadership and my hope is by identifying them for you, this will give you a chance to avoid the great mistakes others have made in the past.

Sometimes leaders are blind or unaware of something due to arrogance, lack of knowledge, want of power and inflexibility.

There are three categories of reasons for Naiveté in leadership.

  1. Ignorance or rejection of the truth related to the reality of a situation, or the true nature of a circumstance.
  2. Arrogance as a mental attitude of jealousy, bitterness, vindictiveness, implacability, hatred, revenge, self pity, guilt, reaction, etc.
  3.  Motivation from a lust pattern like power lust, approbation lust, crusader lust, inordinate ambition from competition, etc.

I think the first two are pretty much self explanatory so I will focus on number three for a bit.


Lust is a powerful force to resist and when indulged it removes the leader from reality with these results:

  1. Naiveté in leadership is first in line.
  2. Lust destroys self esteem and replaces it with inordinate desire.
  3. Lust destroys capacity for leadership.
  4. Lust produces self centeredness.
  5. The desire for self promotion to the exclusion of self responsibility and concern for those under one’s command, this holds true for any situation.
  6. Lust destroys the leaders’ ability to execute leadership. Lust substitutes false concepts through arrogance. The most typical is inordinate ambition and self promotion.
  7. Lust substitutes false motivations of arrogance, with ambition and self promotion for leadership.

Power lust is the main problem of Naiveté in Leadership which results in having or showing a lack of judgment in understanding information and good advice.


Two examples that come to mind are Hitler and Saddam Hussein – both examples of men who lusted for power and fell into the trap of naiveté. But evil dictators do not have a monopoly on naiveté – it is not an exclusive club.


There is a principle here: “The greater the power of a leader the greater the chance for naiveté.”


As you read these examples taken from history, try and ask yourself how they could have avoided Naiveté in Leadership. I think you will find that flexibility coupled with Humility (teachability) would have prevented their mistakes.


Gaius Julius Caesar entered into naiveté resulting in a lack of judgment in 311 iran shipregards to certain things. He was warned there was a plot to kill him, he refused to believe it and to show he was not afraid of it he dismissed his bodyguards and he also pardoned his enemies including his would be assassins, and was killed as a result. He was a great leader in Rome who had tremendous ability in every field he was in – whether it was military on the battlefield or the administration of his country but he fell prey to naiveté.


Napoleon was a man of great genius in warfare. However he was under great naiveté in regard to Russia and Spain. He wanted to invade Spain and Russia. He had an invasion army of close to half a million. In each case he assumed the power he possessed was greater than the terrain of either Spain or Russia. As a result of this and failure to recognize the information in reports that came to him he lacked information and from lacking information his army was defeated left with only 20,000 or so survivors destroying his great power in Europe.


Robert E. Lee – a respected and great general of the South – yet he was naive at Gettysburg which was the key battle in the War Between the States. Lee was leading their invasion into the north and on the first day of the battle Lee had the Union’s only two corps in full retreat and there was no one to stop Robert E. Lee from going all the way to Washington. The union retreated through the town and up Cemetery Ridge but Lee did not force either General Ewell or Early to pursue them. This was a case of naiveté in leadership which changed the course of history with a missed chance for victory.


Naiveté is simplicity of nature and Ewell needed supervision because he should have pursued and defeated the two Federal Corps that had turned their backs and were running.


On the second morning of Gettysburg after leaving Ewell on the left flank Lee never rode to the left flank again and that was Naiveté of Leadership on his part again, this was to be the key battle of the entire war.

On the third day Lee’s greatest example of Naiveté was demonstrated in 2 ways.


First Longstreet suggested an envelopment around the Federals left flank and then pushing on straight to Washington it was open all the way. Lee rejected this.


Second, Lee then ordered Longstreet to make an Infantry frontal attack under the illusion that it would work. This would become famous in history known as “The Charge up Cemetery Ridge” or “Pickett’s Charge” named after General Pickett who led the charge although Longstreet was in command. Longstreet advised Lee that it would be a horrible mistake, the enemy was thoroughly entrenched and yet Lee said my Confederate Infantry is invincible and he told Longstreet to make the attack. This mistake from Lee’s display of naiveté in all probability cost the South the war.


Woodrow Wilson as President was rather naive at the Paris peace talks when he assumed that the US Senate would support the League of Nations and ratify the Treaty of Versailles. They did not. Woodrow Wilson lacked judgment and as a result he lost out completely on the missed opportunities at the Peace talks.


In 1944 Operation Market Garden during World War II – where there was clear intelligence that a Panzer Division lurked near the drop zone – and it was ignored (as shown in the Movie “A Bridge to Far”). This was a clear case of Naiveté of Leadership and Operation Market Garden ended in a disaster.


Franklin Roosevelt was naive when he said “I have Joe Stalin in my hip pocket.” This was arrogance on his part, he did not have Stalin in his hip pocket it was the reverse, Stalin outmaneuvered him in every possible way. Roosevelt lacked both judgment and information.


The same thing happened in Desert Storm. The Iraqis had turned their backs and were running. We did not pursue and destroy them so we came back and fought a costly war again. This is definitely a case of Naiveté in Leadership. I remember how shocked I was – along with others – when we all heard that we had just stopped and did not continue to pursue the enemy and that was it. I knew this was wrong and there would be consequences for this down the road. An opinion many shared at the time.


If these prolific men and events from history all failed on the principle of Naiveté in Leadership we have an even greater potential to fail.

How can the leader avoid the trap of Naiveté that so many before us have fallen victim? I think this could be answered in one word “flexibility”.

Flexibility is the key to getting out of naiveté. Flexibility means adaptability and to be able to change the situation in leadership no matter whether it’s on the battlefield or business, the economy, family matters, etc.


I think a fairly recent example of Naiveté in Leadership due to inflexibility took place near the beginning of the war in Afghanistan in a place called Tora Bora where Osama Bin Laden was trapped in his favorite mountain strong hold. The Spec Ops Commander on the ground and CIA in charge on the ground both understood the importance of killing or capturing Bin Laden. They requested support in the form of an American assault force and blocking force to prevent his escape to Pakistan. This was an American objective and the Afghans had no dog in this fight. General Tommy Franks and the Secretary of Defense refused these urgent requests. They were inflexible and naive they did not listen nor would they understand the situation. They broke the cardinal rule “listen to the guys on the ground.” They had a plan to use minimal US Troops and get the Afghans to do the fighting. In this particular battle they were wrong for many reasons although they are still making excuses to this day for this missed opportunity. None of us know for sure what would have happened if they had chosen flexibility listening to the guys on the ground instead of naiveté. But we can say that the head of the snake would have been removed setting an example to the remaining terrorists. Bin Laden’s escape gave the U.S. a black eye giving hope and motivation to the terrorists along with being able to continue to raise funds which are key to continuing their terrorists operations. The psychological impact alone potentially could have broken Al Qaeda’s back at that time and any good leader knows the difference between motivated and unmotivated troops.


Along with flexibility leadership demands wisdom in relationship to ones command. Here are five points to this principle.

  1. Leadership generally establishes itself through superior wisdom in application or through productivity of some kind.
  2. The leader must think independently so he must not become dependent on opinions which will cost him the ability to think independently.
  3. There comes a time when a leader must make wise and independent decisions for the good of the organization falling in line with the first point.
  4. Good leadership should be flexible enough to listen to good advice from others and to recognize wisdom when presented to him.
  5. The leader must be a good listener and when people come to him with problems he must listen patiently and help them out in whatever way seems to be necessary.

Being ignorant is not so much a shame as being unwilling to listen.

Leaders have a responsibility to avoid the trap of Naiveté in Leadership and always remain objective and flexible ready to adapt to changing situations and always listen especially to the guys on the ground.

“A nation that draws too broad a difference between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking being done by cowards and its fighting by fools.” – Thucydides

Tomorrow must be earned – not appropriated

May 3, 2012

Voting more money for schools doesn’t make this an educated nation…It isn’t billions for more veterans’ hospitals that will make America healthy . . . It is honest production, not shorter hours that protects jobs. . . It takes more than costly playgrounds to cure juvenile delinquency . . . Pouring our billions all over the world doesn’t buy security nor peace.Nothing worth having or worth being is ever reached except by honest hard work, but it is becoming the tragic fashion to think we can short-cut the work, and have everything we want if we only spend enough “Federal” dollars. And then we mistakenly feel “the government has taken care of it”, so we can sit back and relax.

Another once-great nation withered and died when its people were drugged with that same fatal poison. (Perhaps “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” should be required reading in many places today.)
Everything government offers “free” is obviously and always paid for by all of us in higher taxes or a worsening deficit-both of them deficits of dollars but, even more tragically, deficits in national character and self respect. What would ever be worth that?

The Winning Leader

May 3, 2012
“There are no shortcuts in life – only those we imagine”

Signalman First Class Douglas Munro provides covering fire to evacuating Marines at Guadalcanal. He was killed in action during this firefight after ensuring that all of the Marines were safe. He became the only Coast Guardsman to ever be awarded the Medal of Honor.


Everyone wants success, but few are willing to do what is necessary to succeed. Most look for and take short cuts abandoning the path that most probably would have led them to success.


This month’s topic is to give you insights on how to be a successful leader and a consistent winner.


We will start with 5 Fundamentals the Warrior Leader Follows to be a consistent winner.
  1. Sets clear Goals or visions.
  2. Picks the people best for the job and sticks with them.
  3. Sets high standards and maintains them.
  4. Extensive training and physical conditioning.
  5. Act and think like a winner.


I think the first 4 are obvious so we will spend most of the time on the 5th fundamental.


“To bring one’s self to a frame of mind and to the proper energy to accomplish things that require plain hard work continuously is the one big battle that everyone has. When this battle is won for all time, then everything is easy.”  

 – Thomas A. Buckner

Number five was “the leader must act and think like a winner.” But how does a winner act and think?


This is what I hope to pass on to you by breaking the process down into a progression of understanding certain principles essential to winning – that will put you on the path to success…if you have the will to win.


To become a good leader one must first learn to be a good follower and to learn how to be a winner one must learn how to lose correctly. Learning how to lose correctly takes great humility (teachability) and the correct perception of negatives and positives to evaluate, learn and advance from our failures.


 We all tend to think in terms of negatives and positives and most of us have been taught that negative thinking is bad and we should only think positive and if we stay positive good things will happen. But the truth is you can think all the positive things you want but that will never change reality. What I am getting at is the leader must learn to look at himself and circumstances with objectivity, otherwise misconceptions are created by lack of certain critical information and this lack of information often leads us to develop incorrect preconceived ideas. This means that recognizing the negative for what it is, is not only OK but necessary to produce an undistorted view and correct orientation to reality.


“You can choose to be discouraged by negatives or you can choose to be challenged by them.”


Recognizing a negative is not negative thinking. Negative thinking is when you allow the negatives to affect your mental attitude. The same is true of positive thinking if you only allow yourself to think positive without acknowledging the negatives you will fool yourself and wonder why you are losing when it should be obvious you are making the same mistakes over and over again not learning. True positive thinking is the ability to recognize the negatives without allowing them to affect your attitude.


“Hope is the denial of reality.”
– Margaret Weis


A best example of this that comes to mind is what is happening in our country today. There are a great number of people that do not want to acknowledge the negative effect most of our elected and non elected leaders are having on our country. They prefer to stay positive not wanting to consider the consequences of what is happening hoping that everything will somehow be OK or will not affect them. I am not advocating that they should worry which is useless, I am saying they should be concerned and acknowledge the negatives keeping a positive attitude and acting responsibly and voting responsibly even when it appears to not count and even if they are voting for the best of the pick or I like to say the lesser of two evils.


“The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.”

  –  John F Kennedy


“The truth that makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear.”

 – Herbert Sebastien Agar


“Shame on the men who can court exemption from present trouble and expense at the price of their own posterity’s liberty!”

 – Samuel Adams


I feel like a short recap is in order here before we push on. True positive thinking is acknowledging and accepting negative things as a challenge not allowing them to affect your attitude.


“A leader must be able to remain normal in all circumstances.”


With the proper mindset you will not let negatives and positives affect your attitude. I include positives because one of the hardest tests is handling success properly. This is where most people fail by letting their guard down or getting a big head. Handling success without changing your attitude is the most difficult challenge of all.

To keep the winning mind set we must have the ability to refocus when met with distractions. So you need to develop the ability to recover your concentration rapidly when emotion takes control. Without this ability you will not stay objective in the face of adversity.


This simple technique will help you shift from your emotions to objective thinking. When confronted with a mistake or set back say to yourself – “What I do next is more important than what just happened.”


The trick is to grab control back from your emotions, freeing you to concentrate on solutions. This must be practiced daily until you master the ability to refocus from distractions.


“Success and failure are the same. The only difference is success gets up and keeps moving”

 – Jack Dempsey (Champion Heavyweight Boxer)


All negatives are not negative and all positives are not positive.


Most of us have a tendency to associate positive with doing something right and negative with doing something wrong, but we must look deeper. Just because we won does not mean we did something correctly and just because we lost doesn’t mean we did something incorrectly. Many times we have made mistakes from incorrect thinking but they worked out for the best. In these cases one must examine the correct thought process that should have been used because if we accept what happened for what it wasn’t we are setting ourselves up for failure in the future. I see this a lot in dealing with people where they made a mistake for the better but realized their thinking was incorrect. This is the easiest way to learn from a mistake.


All negatives are not negative. I will try and explain what I mean here using an example of the type of thinking that snipers must use. There are two types of snipers: 1. military on the battlefield at war — and 2. Police Snipers.


A police sniper is under great pressure to not miss a shot because he could kill an innocent person so all the conditions must be right he cannot afford to miss.


The military sniper is under a different pressure. He knows the enemy is always out to get him so if he slips up it would mean his life instead of his career but he can afford to miss a shot because his thought process is like a hunter waiting for that window of opportunity and giving it his best shot. If he misses it is not necessarily that he has done anything incorrect. He tells himself the next shot is more important than the last and shakes it off.  He knows that it is ok to take a low percentage shot in the chance that he might score a hit and it is Ok if he misses as long as his thinking was correct.


Whereas the police sniper cannot afford to miss so he cannot take a low percentage shot. One type of thinking permits taking a chance sometimes missing the shot and the other cannot because he can never afford to miss. What they do have in common is they both must think correctly and they must instinctively shut off their emotions to evaluate problems objectively so they can work out of impossible situations.


All negatives are not negative and all positives are not positive.


Evaluate on the basis of whether your thinking was right or wrong not on the basis of if you won or lost is the principle to learn. Great snipers are successful because they have acquired the ability to think objectively, evaluate realistically and come to a correct conclusion.


The winning leader creates an environment to win. How? By giving his enemy the greatest potential to lose by putting him under pressure. How? By creating a winning environment for yourself you make it more difficult for your enemy to win. If your mind constantly becomes discouraged by mistakes and failures, the only environment you are creating is one in which you, not your enemy will fail.


To create the winning environment you must learn to incorporate long term thinking into your thought process. Our emotions are good at letting us know when mistakes and failure come into play and that is where they should be stopped and thinking should take over and part of that thinking must include long term strategies.


Long term strategies call for mental toughness. It is easy to execute a short term strategy but it is difficult to execute a long term strategy because you must persevere through ups and downs to stay on track with doubt always lingering in the background. Without mental toughness doubt will cause you to second guess yourself causing you to be unsure giving opportunity to your enemy.


Mental toughness takes years to develop and it has its secrets.


“When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us”

– Alexander Graham Bell


One “You do not win by trying to win”. Most people associate winning with doing something spectacular like hitting a home run. This is trying to win by winning which is a bad mindset for the Warrior Leader which places victory to chance. I will use baseball as an example to explain. It is the last inning the winning run is on third base. All I need to do is get a base hit that brings the runner home. But I want to hit a home run to win the game ignoring the fact that there are other options to win by. This is the “trying to win by winning” mind set. Instead of keeping all the options open like bunting, walking or getting a base hit to win the game I strike out trying to hit a home run. What I should have done was created an environment with the best chance to win by keeping all my options open with a relaxed and focused mindset waiting for the right opportunity to execute one of the many options to win. This is the difference between making it happen and letting it happen. The correct mindset is to create an environment that lets it happen. This is the winning mindset of the mentally tough warrior he seeks to win by controlling his emotions and utilizing his skills to the fullest, ready to take full advantage of all options and opportunities. This is letting it happen.


This same principle can be applied to every facet of life. Another good example is trying to get rich quick. This is the same as trying to win by winning. You put all your eggs in one basket trying to score big in some investment and you have created an environment with no options and the greatest potential to lose as opposed to creating an environment to let it happen by creating many options, low risk and no pressure to make hasty decisions.


“Winning is making yourself do what you do not want to do in order to achieve what you want to achieve.”


Most people want to win but

Four LST’s unload men and equipment on beach in Inchon on Sept. 15, 1950.

often do not want to do what it takes to win. This means consistency first and winners second. Consistent winners win by maintaining the proper mindset that thinks consciously and subconsciously with consistency. In other words they always take the path with the best options to succeed. This is not to say that you do not take risks because sometimes taking a risk is the best option. Here are some examples from history. General MacArthur’s strategy to land our troops in Inchon Bay during the Korean War was risky but gave the best chance for success, Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas Jonathan Jackson bested the North for the first three plus years by taking bold risks but that was the best chance for success. When a small Army is out numbered sometimes its best chance to win is to attack with great energy this is risky but offers the best chance for success. To play this game the warrior must have mental toughness, great knowledge, skills and know the rules so he can know when to break the rules and win. If you understand military strategy and principals you can make decisions that may appear to be risky but in fact offer the best chance to win. I can think of countless examples from history where great people succeeded by creating the best environment to win through utilizing the proper mindset.


“Real leadership quality is demonstrated through both seeing the big picture, and through ensuring others see it creating a shared vision.”


I mentioned earlier that as the warrior gains mental toughness with the proper mind set he must learn to not just look at individual situations but to see the big picture.


 What is seeing the big picture?


Here are a few descriptions of what it means to see the big picture.
  • Knowing not just how and what to do, but knowing why.
  • Viewing the whole and not just its parts.
  • Seeing a vision, a sense of the bigger picture.
  • Having the ability to see significance in work, beyond the obvious.
  • Understanding what it takes for a legacy to live on, whether in creating something like our Constitution and Declaration of Independence or in some physical structure like a bridge or in the impact made on people.
The key to understanding and seeing the big picture is to realize how decisions impact future events.


The winning leader must ask himself this question “Do I have a sense of the bigger picture in what I do?” If the answer is no he needs think about how decisions he has made have affected the future.


“The trick to forgetting the big picture is to look at everything close-up.”


I will part with these characteristics of Winning leaders.

Winners know they cannot always dial in a perfect performance so they improvise and adapt to overcome obstacles and adverse situations.


In the long run victory will not be decided by how many mistakes they make but how they choose to deal with those mistakes.


Winners know that many physical and mental failures are overcome by taking responsibility for them and adopting the correct mental attitude.


Winners forget failure and move on in the face of negative feelings.


Winners understand that to win consistently, they must learn to control adverse situations and minimize their effect to create a winning environment.


Practicing your mental game develops mental toughness the same way physical training develops physical toughness.

“The highest reward for man’s toil is not what he gets for it, but what he becomes by it.”
                                                                                 – John Ruskin


A Leader Must be Organized

April 5, 2012

Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up. – A.A. Milne


We have all experienced the difference between good organization and bad organization probably more times then we care to remember. So I thought I would attempt to give you some perspective and insight as to how a leader should organize himself and his organization.


First in order for a leader to be organized he must think. But without correct thought he will not be able to organize properly. This brings up the question of where correct thought comes from and it starts with a good scale of values.

“Character is Victory Organized” – Napoleon


In order for correct thought the leader must have a good scale of values. Without a good scale of values his thinking will be flawed. A good scale of values is important to a leader in many ways. It is the key to his happiness for without them he will go through life unorganized because he cannot determine what is most important. If you cannot determine what is most important you will build a weak ineffective organization which wastes not only your time but also the time and resources of your organization.


The leader must guard his thoughts against one of the greatest enemies of our day to thinking which relativism is. Relativism is a theory, especially in ethics or aesthetics that conceptions of truth and moral values are not absolute but are relative to the persons or groups holding them. Relativism has led a great assault on values and corrects thinking. It is used by the enemies of truth to disguise bad things to make them appear acceptable or good. Only with a good scale of values and knowledge will the leader be able to guard against the assault of relativism.


Next you must have knowledge to think. Without knowledge you become a slave to your emotions. It is the leader who thinks that is successful and is organized.


For serious thinking it is said “sitting” is the posture of thinking. It is best to sit when you think because the emphasis is on the brain; as opposed to when you’re standing the emphasis is on the body. During WWII the Army Air Corps had this saying


“God gave us two ends one to sit on and one to think on.”


The leader knows it is the brain that counts. You may see someone that you think looks the part. I hear news announcers on TV comment on how a candidate looks presidential but only a fool would use that as criteria to vote for someone but it has happened throughout history. We have all been deceived by appearances but when we get to know people it is often different then we would have wanted to think. We have all met some beautiful woman or some handsome athletic guy only to learn there is nothing upstairs and you can’t get away from them fast enough. The leader knows without the ability to think you are nothing.


Without thought you are a slave to your emotions and you will be disorganized your whole life until you learn to think.


Leaders have responsibility to make sure that everyone in the organization is properly placed. A leader must be able to evaluate his men and recognize where a person belongs in an organization. This is important to both the organization and to the happiness of the individual because he will be where he can contribute the most. This will determine the success of the organization because an organization is only as strong as its weakest link. One should never be placed where they are in a position to fail.

When a leader is personally organized this enables him to put together an organized staff which will keep people organized down the chain making everyone’s lives easier and more productive.



From correct thought and knowledge the leader is able to prioritize things. General Thomas Jonathan Jackson aka “Stone Wall Jackson” during the Civil War was constantly faced with setting priorities. He had the challenge of training up his Army from scratch to face a foe superior in numbers, arms, material and in just about every way except leadership. To top things off he also had little time to accomplish this. What he did first was to take into account the circumstances.


“Do not repeat tactics which gained you victory in the past, but let your tactics be molded by… circumstances.” – Sun Tzu


He thoroughly understood his situation and his enemy and set priorities. He had to decide the things that were most important to fight in battle and win. He focused on tactical training and soldier skills and was lax on dress code and drill and ceremony. He was hard on discipline but lax on protocol. He was caring and compassionate with his men, but he drove them hard and his punishments were severe. He never compromised on principal, but broke all the rules in strategy. His men loved him. He was able in a short amount of time to field an Army that became the most feared by the North and won many Battles.


For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned.”

Now comes time. The use of time has a direct relationship to the way priorities are set. Being able to prioritize things and allocate time properly takes pressure off. The leader must be able to relate himself properly to time.


“Ask me for anything but time” – Napoleon


Time was something General Jackson did not have and he understood the importance and how it would affect his situation by not being personally organized. He had the impossible to do with little time and the only way to gain time was through being organized for max efficiency. Utilizing his excellent scale of values, his knowledge, identifying what was most important setting priorities and orienting himself to time allocating enough to accomplish the priorities and necessary things enabled him to take his troops into battle and fight affectively. Being well organized frees one to get the job or mission done.


The leader must continue to lead, motivate and coach his people to continually adapt to new situations along with finding ways to improve. The enemy always adapts to his adversaries tactics and so must any organization to stay ahead and anticipate what is to come. The key to adapting is to share your vision and goals to work as a team with your organization.

“The trouble with organizing a thing is that pretty soon folks get to paying more attention to the organization than to what they’re organized for.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder


Being organized means to collect correct information and utilize it. This starts with reality. If the leader of his organization is not in touch with the realities facing his organization he is doomed to making bad decisions which will render any organization ineffective. A good leader knows there are always two sides to every story so he does his best to collect the facts before making judgments. This will keep the organization effective.


“The secret of all victory lies in the organization of the non-obvious.” – Marcus Aurelius

Leadership by Example

March 14, 2012

A leader leads by example, whether he intends to or not”

– John Quincy



‘In war men are nothing; it is the man who is everything. The general is the head, the whole of an army. It was not the Roman army that conquered Gaul, but Caesar; it was not the Carthaginian army that made Rome tremble in her gates, but Hannibal; it was not the French army that carried the war to the Weser and the Inn, but Turenne; it was not the Prussian army which, for seven years, defended Prussia against the three greatest Powers of Europe, but Frederick the Great.’ So spoke Napoleon, reiterating a truth confirmed by the experience of successive ages, that a wise direction is of more avail than overwhelming numbers, sound strategy than the most perfect armament; a powerful will, invigorating all who come within its sphere, than the spasmodic efforts of ill-regulated valor.


“The power and impact of the leader

may not be seen, but it is surely felt.”


Even a professional army of long standing and old traditions are what its commander makes it; its character sooner or later becomes the reflex of his own from him the officers take their tone; his energy or his inactivity, his firmness or vacillation, are rapidly communicated even to the lower ranks; and so far-reaching is the influence of the leader that those who record his campaigns concern themselves but little as a rule with the men who followed him. The history of famous armies is the history of great generals, for no army has ever achieved great things unless it has been well led. If the general be second-rate the army also will be second-rate. Mutual confidence is the basis of success in war, and unless the troops have implicit trust in the resolution and resources of their chief, hesitation and half-heartedness are sure to mark their actions. They may fight with their accustomed courage; but the eagerness for the conflict, the alacrity to support, the determination to conquer, will not be there. The indefinable quality which is expressed by the word moral will to some degree be affected.


“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way,and shows the way”  

– John C Maxwell

“Leadership is leaders inducing followers to act for certain goals that represent the values and motivations, the wants and needs, and aspirations and expectations, of both leaders and followers.


And the genius of leadership lies in the manner in which leaders see and act on their own and their followers of values and motivations.


The architecture of leadership, all the theories and guidelines, fall apart without honesty and integrity. Divorced from ethics, leadership is reduced to management and politics to mere technique.


The fact is that leaders that tell their subordinates the truth, even when the news is bad, gain greater respect and support for ideas than their less virtuous counterparts.


In relationships trust is everything and leadership is no different. The men must trust the leader and the leader must trust the men.


Invariably an organization takes on the personality of its top leader, providing that individual is in touch with the members of the organization. If the leader is petty the subordinates will be petty. But if the leader is encouraging, optimistic, and courteous, then the vast of majority of people in the organization will be as well.

“All Leadership is influence”

– John C. Maxwell


From the moment we entered this world we have all been touched by the invisible impact of leadership by example. For those of us that came up in families the oldest learned quickly that whatever they did their younger brother or sister was sure to copy sometimes getting them in trouble. What started in the home also carries outside the home younger kids watching older neighborhood or school kids often copy their behavior for better or worse and this continues on throughout our lives.


This is why the company you keep is so important. If you spend enough time with the wrong crowd they will eventually bring you down. The leader must understand the power in influence he has over his followers and constantly set an example. For the leader class is never over his every decision and behavior is forging future leaders and as a result he will have an invisible impact on future events.


“Example is not the main thing in  

influencing others, it is the only thing.”

Throughout history leadership by example has played an invisible role with immeasurable impact but often seen to those who live it. Bold Commanders aggressive and not afraid to take calculated risks instill these same qualities into their subordinates which claimed many future victories winning many battles. Unfortunately the same is true for the cautious non aggressive commander which leaves a legacy of lost opportunity.


Leaders hold a great unseen power called invisible impact. This is the living legacy they leave behind for those who follow.

“The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men, the conviction and the will to carry on”

– Winston Churchill


It Takes Courage to Lead

March 14, 2012

“Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities… because it is the quality which guarantees all others.”

– Winston Churchill

One of the many disastrous trends of our day is the loss of courage on the part of society to speak the truth particularly among the successful and those in leadership. Why is this? Are they afraid of being victimized for speaking the truth? Will it jeopardize their careers? Go with the flow or be left behind? The truth does not support the agendas pushed by special interest groups and our politicians? Could it be that the truth does not want to be heard by many because it will disturb there state of denial or ignore problems and they will go away? There are many reasons but in the end it mostly has to do with courage. Our supposedly free society is looking a lot like a totalitarian regime where people who speak the truth are often punished by the PC Police, special interest groups and we have a media that is a propaganda machine with little interest in the truth.


“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing” – Edmund Burke



Courage is contagious

This short story taken from the book Horse Soldiers by Doug Stanton is a story of how the Team Leader of a Special Forces A Team inserted into Afghanistan linked up with a tribal leader with the Northern alliance that had been battling the Taliban since their control. A handful of Green Berets with the help of the Air Force helped the local resistance defeat the Taliban in a few months in what was thought would take a year and a half. This was the First time in History that Special Forces had been given the lead effort in a war. They did not disappoint. Fighting from horse back with the locals it was like the Flintstones met the Jetsons. The Green Berets used everything they knew and gave everything they had to the effort and one quality that made all their successes possible was courage.


Here is a sample of that courage exhibited during a rocket attack as they were advancing clearing the enemy from the Tiangi Gap November 9, 2001.




The explosion threw him on his back in a ditch. The horse was standing over him, its feet straddling the edges of the deep depression in the ground. He looked up at the horse, silhouetted against the sky. The horse was looking down at him as the rockets crashed. Diller thought Bennet and Coffers were probably dead. They’d ridden ahead a few minutes before the rocket attack and he didn’t know where they were.


He lay there listening for the telltale screech of a next launch. It was quiet. The barrage had come from the north and west, from the back side of the Gap, about a mile away. He figured the Taliban hadn’t targeted him specifically. They were spraying the ground indiscriminately.


He turned at the sound of approaching hoof beats. Bennett and Coffers were riding up fast. They pulled to a halt and Diller stood up and brushed himself off. They explained that when the barrage started, their horses had taken off and they couldn’t stop them running. They had laid out along the necks of the racing animals and held on. The horses ran maybe a half mile, then stopped. Then they’d turned them and raced back to Diller.


Nelson, sitting on his horse at the mouth of the Gap, saw that the Taliban rocket attack had quashed the forward momentum of the Northern Alliance. Nelson felt this was a critical moment. Dostum’s men had scattered into the hills. He knew he had to do something. He could see men lying up in the rocks, like stunned lizards.


You have to lead these men, he thought. If they stopped here, the Taliban might have time to regroup and attack again.


He swallowed hard and spurred his horse ahead. Inside the canyon, Taliban vehicles were canted and burning. The drivers had been burned alive and spilled from the doors, dark as wicks. Nelson looked down to the river and saw more men and horses lying in the water. The Taliban had even mined the river.


At the sound of his approach, Nelson saw men stand up on the rock ledges and look at him. They looked startled and watched him pass. And then, slowly, one by one, he heard them scrabbling off the rock. The scrape and trickle of pebbles rolling downhill.


He closed his eyes and thanked God. He was horrified by the sights around him, yet he felt exuberant. It was hard to explain.


He had hoped the Afghans would follow him. If they hadn’t, he would’ve felt that he’d failed as a U.S. Army captain. As a teenager in Kansas, he had always admired a particular painting of a Civil War battle. It depicted a general riding through a battlefield, and following him were his men, hollow- eyed, trusting, hopeful. He felt that whatever happened in his military career, for this moment he was leading these men through a version of hell.


He still had no idea if they’d be attacked again by more rockets. He kept riding.


He looked behind him and saw that about three hundred Afghans were marching with him, some carrying weapons, others walking empty- handed, their rifles having been lost in the explosions.


About halfway through the canyon Nelson found, General Dostum the Afghan Warlord he was supporting. Nelson hugged Dostum, who asked him where he’d been. The burly warlord had worried that Nelson had been killed in the attacks. “I got here as soon as I could,” said Nelson.




Nelson understood that Fear in war is contagious but the reverse is true of courage. Leaders must demonstrate courage during critical moments in order to rally their men. If he shows fear his men will likely be fearful if for no other reason the confidence in their leader is gone and if the leader shows courage it is contagious and restores confidence in battle. This is what is meant by courage is a byproduct of leadership.


“No leader can effectively lead his men into battle without understanding how to control fear.”


There is nothing more necessary for leadership than courage. It takes more courage to be a leader than it does to be a follower. There are always decisions which demand a tremendous amount of courage and to make those decisions it takes courage rather than fear.


“An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”

  – Winston Churchill


We have leadership today without courage – that only thinks of expediency to push problems down the road with no concern for the future…only whether the people like this or not or what it is going to do to their chances of promotion or re-election and so on. This isn’t leadership it is selfish and cowardice.


“A man does what he must – in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures – and that is the basis of all human morality”

 -Winston Churchill


A man who will not stand up to a group that is trying to pressure him for one reason or another, who threatens him, has no business being a leader. These things happen to leaders and in life there are always a certain amount of self serving special interest groups applying pressure any way they can. It is the leaders’ job to use courage and stand up to them and stay mindful of all those he serves, and stay loyal to principle and laws. Opposition is inevitable in leadership and if a leader approaches opposition with objectivity he will learn from the opposition he may find he has made a mistake or he may find the opposition to be wrong but either way he will understand the realities of the situation enabling him to better handle it. Opposition should be looked on as a challenge to a leader and an opportunity to learn when embraced by objectivity.



“Courage conquers fear”

The battle field creates an environment where fear is prevalent and unless courage prevails all is lost. In the junior ranks leadership places great emphasis on the individuals personal courage, tactics and ability to communicate. At a more senior level these characteristics remain essential ingredients but other qualities and challenges come into play. However for all ranks the one constant essential is courage, regardless of a person’s position or service without courage all is lost.


High level Leadership has tremendous responsibility for many lives and many things. One that I will point out is the responsibility of commanders at all levels to identify the limits of courage in individuals under their command before the reserves are drained causing collapse under the weight of personal stress which means they can become a danger to themselves and others. Such judgments demand that a leader knows his men’s strengths, weaknesses, abilities and human nature to determine what needs to be done. Then a commander must summon the moral courage to take the necessary but potentially unpopular step of removing the soldier from his post in combat in which they may have performed well in the past.


“It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.”

Mark Twain


Moral courage is higher and rarer in quality then physical courage. It embraces all courage, and physical courage flows from it. We are all faced with decisions requiring moral courage in our daily lives, it occurs with family, in business, in command, not in command, at work, in sports, in relationships in every facet of life.


“There are no easy answers’ but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.”

– Ronald Reagan


It takes moral courage to do what’s right regardless of the consequences. It takes moral courage to stand up against the crowd, to assist a victim of bullying or to reveal negligence where others would prefer it to remain hidden. Moral courage implies the belief that what you are doing or saying is right, and are willing to follow through your conviction regardless of personal consequences, popularity or favor. Moral courage is easy to expound but not so easy to achieve. Moral courage takes character and humility to execute and a person of high moral courage will seldom fail to demonstrate physical courage.


In war there are four orders of men measured in degrees of courage.

  1. Men who did not feel fear.
  2. Men who feel fear but do not show it.
  3. Men who feel fear and show it, but do their job anyway.
  4. Men who feel fear show it and succumb to it with cowardice.

What is the difference between a coward and a hero? It is thinking. Courage is the ability to think under pressure and fear is inability to think under pressure or simply panic. The warrior knows that battles are fought and won by courage so the military teaches its recruits courage. The first thing the military applies to the principle of Courage is thinking under pressure and panic is lack of thought under pressure. So we start with basic training where recruits learn physical courage through different types of training challenges designed to test their mettle along with endless drilling and inculcation. This is accomplished through repetition of essential battlefield skills to condition soldiers to be able to react automatically without having to think while they are learning battlefield courage. Battlefield courage is tested on the battlefield. Then we have moral courage from which most courage flows which is acquired as a soldier gains more responsibility and faces more challenges that require thinking under pressure. Schools like U.S. Army Ranger School, the Special Forces Qualification Course, the Jump Master Course and so on all teach and test the soldiers’ ability to think under pressure


“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

– Winston Churchil

Leadership Demands Honor

February 14, 2012

 “Duty, Honor, Country. Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be”
–  General Douglas MacArthur

Honor for a leader requires a personal honor code and adherence to the principles of that code. This means that a leader must have integrity which is loyalty to truth and principles in order to execute his Personal Code of Honor.

“You are remembered for the rules you break”
– General Douglas MacArthur

311 iran ship
Dick Meadows leads the BLUEBOY assault team inside the Son Tay prison compound, 21 Nov 1970

Major Richard J. Meadows a legend in the Special Forces Community lived by a personal Code of Honor. For those of you who do not know him here is a quick bio.

Major Richard J. Meadows (June 16, 1931 – July 29, 1995) was a U.S. Army Special Forces officer who saw combat in U.S. wars from Korea to the Iran Hostage Rescue mission in 1980. He was a pivotal player in the creation of the modern U.S. Army Special Forces.
Meadows enlisted in the Army at age 15. He first saw combat in Korea and was, by age 20, the youngest Master Sergeant in the Army at that time. In 1953, he entered the U.S. Army Special Forces and remained active in them or the Rangers until his retirement in 1977. His participation in the Iran Hostage Rescue mission came after his official retirement.

In 1960, Meadows was one of the first U.S. Army officers to participate in an exchange program with the British Special Air Service special forces unit. Meadows completed SAS training, was an acting troop leader for 12 months, and participated in a field combat operation with his unit. It is widely believed that Meadows’ SAS experience helped form the basis for future US Army Special Forces selection, training, and organizational structures.

While assigned to the 8th Special Forces Group in Panama, MSG Meadows volunteered for a tour in Vietnam. At the end of his first tour, serving in the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam – Studies and Observations Group, Meadows received a direct commission as a captain on April 14, 1967.

311 iran ship
BLUEBOY Assault Element: Dick Meadows (lower left)
On Nov 21, 1970 Capt. Meadows was the team leader for the initial assault team in the Son Tay prison camp raid (see Operation Ivory Coast). This 14-man team (plus pilots), code-named Blueboy, intentionally crash-landed an HH-3 helicopter right in the middle of the prison camp to achieve maximum surprise. One team member was injured in the landing (broken ankle). The remaining team members executed their mission without further casualties. However, much to Meadows’ disappointment, the prison camp had moved all its captives’ weeks earlier. The possibility that the POW’s were moved was known to CPT Meadows so this was not an unexpected surprise because they had elected to continue the raid on a chance some were still there.

311 iran ship
Capt. Dick Meadows, Leader Assault Element BLUEBOY

In the mid-1970s, Meadows was a key figure in the founding of the US Delta Force special operations and hostage rescue force.

Major Meadows retired in 1977.

In 1980, Major Meadows returned to service as a special consultant and performed a covert reconnaissance of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran prior to and during Operation Eagle Claw, better known as the Iran Hostage Rescue mission. That mission ended in a major accident at a ground refueling point in the Iran desert, and was aborted. Documents found at the crash site compromised both the mission and Meadows’ cover in Iran. Under cover as a foreign businessman, Meadows escaped Iran aboard a commercial flight.

In 1995, Meadows was diagnosed with and subsequently died of leukemia. It is contended by many in the Special Forces community that, had the contents of Meadows’ military record been disclosed, he would have been awarded the Medal of Honor. However, the majority of Meadows’ covert roles in Vietnam working with the CIA’s Special Activities Division remain undisclosed.

The statue of Major Meadows at F311 iran shipt Bragg and the Dick Meadows award for Heroism record his legacy to Special Forces and should inspire us all.

Mark Meadows knew his father in a perspective no one else could and wrote about his father recognizing the role honor played in his life.
“How do you get into a man’s mind? Where or what is the button that makes him react, and how or why does he think the way he does? To study people you do not need to be a psychologist, just interested. Let’s take this guy Captain Meadows for example and look at a segment of his life. The curiosity-what is the motivation behind his actions?

He’s been isolated from his family and friends for four months. He lives in a single room billet where he stays most of the time if he’s not training or conducting business with his unit. The hours are long by the standards of a normal garrison. But not here, to work well into the evening is a normal and even a welcomed routine, for boredom quickly becomes the enemy. Being a leader of this unit keeps him busy; he has been planning an air assault raid in his head for quite a while. Now the training is in full swing and planning continues. He’s gone over the rehearsals in his head time after time. He knows exactly what’s needed to execute the mission without incident. He quietly and calmly gives the orders, guiding his unit in the right direction. His intuition is brilliant; a smooth decision making process that leaves others confused while he meticulously and methodically matures the plan. He sees and thinks the “what ifs” that no one else sees. He consults with his peers and subordinates periodically but only to research something he has been thinking about. And without disclosing his ideas, he eases out of the conversation to return to the drawing board in his head where the real plan has been written.

During training he checks on his soldiers and his young leaders. Watching their skills in both combat and leadership development. He allows the small expected mistakes within his parameters of the direction he intends to lead the unit. Like a sheep herder, he watches over his responsibility, the men. His training philosophy: take care of the men and train them the right way that allows personal and professional growth. By doing this a leader secures the success of the mission as well as the survival of the men. “Mission first, men always.”” And when the training is done for the day and the soldier has been put to rest, he’s thinking and planning for tomorrow. He’s studying the drawing board, making the necessary notes. A quick thought of his wife and he drifts off to sleep.

And why, why all the selfless devotion, sacrifice of his time to painfully make sure everything is right?  Who can answer this question? I can. And simply put, the common denominator of everything he does is honor. He has honor. I know this to be true. I’ve studied it for fifteen plus years, watched, listened and practiced. This Captain Meadows is unusual and I know it, I know it all too well. He’s my mentor, role model. He’s my Dad. And in 1970 he had a small part in an air assault raid. He’s the most unusual man I’ve ever known and has taught me without teaching. I continue to chase his reputation and I don’t mind, it’s the best goal I could have.

The greatest reward I’ve ever received was at a private dinner; just the two of us. I was told by my mentor that he was proud of me and pleased that I had learned the common denominator-honor. That he gave me something very important. He gave me his unquestionable trust. Something he has never given to any other man. Now I’m Captain Meadows and I’m planning the missions; I’ve learned the secret.

Mark Meadows identifies his father’s sense of honor as the focus of all his actions and his life and his Military career appeared to be driven by it.

“Ability without honor is useless.”
– Marcus Tullius Cicero
A Personal Code of Honor serves as a guiding light and drives our behavior. We all need a Code of Honor to live by. For our nation it is the Declaration of Independence when I served in the 1st Ranger Bn it was the Ranger Creed. One of the first things required of us was to memorize the Ranger Creed because they knew the importance of an honor code.  As one matures in life we should learn and develop our own Personal Code of Honor it can be from looking at role models, other honor codes, if you were lucky your parents taught you what you needed for your honor code when you were growing up. The best source of truth to formulate your Personal Code of Honor from is the Bible if you can get under the right Pastor Teacher it will take you far beyond any other source available and it covers everything.

All leaders must have a personal code of Honor to guide them in everything they do. It is terribly important that they adopt correct principles because any false or weak concepts will weaken the Leader and could turn the code into a tool of destruction instead of a pathway to success.

A leader should never compromise principle but when it comes to others especially his men he must have flexibility. For a leader it is one thing to evaluate men based on one’s Personal Code of Honor but it is a mistake to judge men by it. An honorable leader must be above self righteousness a form of arrogance and when responsible to pass judgment when duty calls it must be done fairly, impersonally and objectively.

“If you examine a man exclusively for his weaknesses and his faults, you will be in danger of neither liking him nor trusting him. Look for his strengths. As a leader encourage him to build on them. Do this properly and from that he’ll recognize and correct his own shortcomings. If you have a difficult man with whom you think it is worth persevering, then don’t ever get angry with him. Especially don’t go to bed angry with him, because that’s when the little maggots eat at your brain and you wake up still angry with him and you’ve lost your objectivity. Worse-you might have adversely affected a good man’s career.”
– Mark Meadows
One of my favorite Generals was General Thomas Jonathon Jackson famously known as Stonewall Jackson. He lived by a personal code of honor that brought him success and greatness.  Here is a glimpse of the man. This incident  took place shortly before the Civil War while Jackson was serving as Professor of Artillery Tactics and Natural Philosophy at the Virginia Military Institute.

“Why, in the name of reason,” he was asked, do you walk a mile in the rain for a perfectly unimportant thing?”  ‘Simply because I have discovered that it was a misstatement, and I could not sleep comfortably unless I put it right.’

He had occasion to censure a cadet who had given, as Jackson believed, the wrong solution of a problem. On thinking the matter over at home he found that the pupil was right and the teacher wrong. It was late at night and in the depth of winter, but he immediately started off to the Institute some distance from his quarters, and sent for the cadet. The delinquent, answering with much trepidation the untimely summons, found himself to his astonishment the recipient of a frank apology. Jackson’s scruples carried him even further. Persons who interlarded their conversation with the unmeaning phrase ‘you know’ were often astonished by the blunt interruption that he did not know. But if he carried his conscientiousness to extremes, if he laid down stringent rules for his own governance, he neither set himself up for a model nor did he attempt to force his convictions upon others. He was always tolerant; he knew his own faults, and his own temptations, and if he could say nothing good of a man he would not speak of him at all. But he was by no means disposed to overlook conduct of which he disapproved, and undue leniency was a weakness to which he never yielded.

Leadership without honor blunders through life.

“Never give an order that can’t be obeyed”
– Douglas MacArthur

“I Love the name of honor, more than I fear death”
– Julius Caesar

I urge you all to adopt a personal code of honor.

The Leader’s Greatest Enemy

November 2, 2011

What does every warrior leader fear most in his men?

What is the coach most afraid of when his team is unbeatable?
“People can only be great when they are humble,

when they lose humility they cease to be great”

Arrogance is the leader’s greatest enemy both for himself and his men. The hardest challenge for a leader of warriors is to keep his men humble. The warrior leader is not fooled by false pretenses. It is not whether his men are tense and make mistakes where the average person would respond that the solution is to relax. The warrior leader knows that these things are not a problem; arrogance is the true problem, for if his men are free from arrogance and are humble they are teachable. It is easy to solve problems when people are teachable.

“Objectivity + Teachability = Humility”

How does a leader keep his men humble? This is not an easy question to answer because there is only so much a leader can do and the rest is up to the individual. But I will attempt to outline the steps a leader must use to prevent arrogance from setting in.

TrainingThe most effective weapon in a leader’s arsenal to battle arrogance is enforced humility. It is the leader’s job to know how and when to administer enforced humility. Some of you are probably wondering what enforced humility is so I will come up with a definition.

“Enforced humility is humility forced upon an individual or group of people by those in authority who are taking measures to remove arrogance. Note the word “force” because most of the time force is necessary to snap people out of arrogance and back to reality. Appeasement doesn’t work any better for individuals then it does in foreign policy towards other nations all it does is embolden individuals and countries making matters worse because they will always come back for more, thinking they can get their way again.

In the military a leader forces humility upon his men or individuals to keep or put them back in their place. I like to call this a “reality check” or an “attitude check”. Enforced humility gives the soldier a chance to see and confront his arrogance. We have all experienced enforced humility throughout our lives. For most of us it started in the home with our parents teaching us to behave and so forth by punishing us or making us do something we did not want to do, like brush our teeth pick up our room make our bed, etc. For us who served in the military we received a lot of enforced humility from the Drill Sergeants.

A leader must be careful to use truth in combating arrogance in his men
because truth makes us aware of our arrogance and gives us a chance to
humble ourselves.

A leader must learn to recognize arrogance when it begins to set in
because it is easiest to combat at its early stages. Some people go through their whole lives with arrogance always blaming someone or something never facing reality and taking responsibility.

The first step a leader must take is to fully understand what arrogance is, how it operates and what it is capable of.

I. Arrogance is self deception, delusion, unreality and when perpetuated it becomes insanity.

II. Here is a simple breakdown on how arrogance operates:

1. self-justification
2. self-deception
3. self-absorption

The three steps above form a pattern of human behavior operating in
arrogance that has been consistent throughout time. A leader must learn to look for these indicators. They will allow him to recognize arrogance in his men and himself by observing the way he or his men react to different events that occur each day. These indicators can also give you some insight as to the degree of arrogance you are dealing with which usually becomes obvious by the degree of stubbornness not able to let something go or look at something with objectivity and so on. The more difficult to reason with usually the more arrogance you are dealing with. I would like to point out that holding on to truth is not arrogance but one needs to learn that sometimes life is unfair and one must learn to face life’s consequences being able to suck it up as we would say and move on and put it behind us.

Self-justification is easily recognized when an individual becomes defensive and tries to explain or prove that they are free of any blame.

Self-deception is the next step in the pattern and this is when an individual deceives themselves into thinking they are right.

Self-absorption is the last step in the pattern and this is when a person becomes selfish and everything centers on them. This is a dangerous phase because if carried to an extreme it produces conditions like bitterness, jealously, hatred, and vindictiveness. If the self-absorption or indulgence is carried too far a person will form psychosis like narcissism, split personalities and other conditions.

There are many forms of arrogance forming a complex through which there is any number of ways one can enter and when one enters into the complex of arrogance it is like quicksand sucking you in deeper and deeper if you do not wakeup. The leader also knows that arrogance is a contagious cancer and must be stopped or cut out before it infects his men. This is the way mob violence, and mutiny grows within the ranks.

All the many forms of arrogance seem to function in a similar way, always blinding people from reality which makes it easy to identify when one knows what to look for and uses the indicators. Some examples of arrogance are iconoclastic arrogance. This is where a person worships someone placing them on a pedestal and they can do no wrong. Some people call this hero worship but anyway the reason I bring this one up is because it puts leaders in precarious position because he knows he is only human and when that hero worshiper sees his faults that person will go from friend to foe attacking and trying to destroy him.

Another form of arrogance that leaders are likely to encounter are guilt where a person cannot let go of an incident they may or may not be responsible for causing them to dwell on it and not perform their duties to their fullest. I think most of us have seen many types of arrogance but perhaps called them by another name maybe not even knowing they were a form of arrogance. For example stubbornness is a form of arrogance.

The biggest challenge for a leader is to counteract arrogance. In the military strict discipline is the best remedy for preventing arrogance and coincidentally the units with the best discipline always outperform the units with lax standards. Unfortunately most of the time the remedy calls for a swift kick in the ass but our society has degenerated to a point where we cater to arrogance instead of remedying it. A great example was in World War II when General Patton slapped a coward with the intent of snapping him out of his arrogance of feeling sorry for himself. Most of us know the incident and instead of the soldier being punished General Patton received a dose of enforced humility and one of our best generals was temporarily put on the sidelines.

“Humility + concentration + confidence = The greatest happiness”

The leader knows that confidence and courage of a soldier is intensified by the increase of knowledge in his skill. But the leader also knows that knowledge often creates arrogance and this he must guard against. An example is when he sends one of his men to a special school and the soldier comes back thinking he knows it all but in most cases he only know s enough to be dangerous to himself and his fellow soldiers. This we see a lot in young people that attend school and come home disrespecting their parents thinking they know more than they do.

“A person unlearns arrogance when he knows he is always among worthy human beings; being alone fosters presumption. Young people are arrogant because they always associate with their own peers, those who are all really nothing but who would like to be very important”.
– Friedrich Nietzsche

“Ignorance produces arrogance”

Ignorance also produces arrogance. We see this all the time especially when we turn on the news. People asking questions and people answering questions about things they know nothing about instead of saying I do not know. Then it gets worse as they defend and argue their opinions about things they know nothing about. I feel for our soldiers on the battlefield with all the opinions being expressed on ROE (Rules of Engagement) and the Monday morning quarterbacking of people who have no knowledge or experience to render a qualified opinion.

“Arrogance distorts everything in life and humility puts truth in perspective in life”.

There is no profession in life that a man can be truly great in without humility. I have had the privilege on more than a few occasions to have been trained, coached and lead by some truly great people and the one thing they all had in common was humility. They all had far different personalities but they were always curious to learn or find a better way to improve which was what enabled them to rise to greatness.

All good leaders know that humility is the foundation of all other virtues and there is no greater human trait that a leader can give his men than to have humility.

“A true man of honor feels humbled himself when he cannot help humbling others.” – General Robert E. Lee

Service Members Say the Medal of Honor Is Too Hard to Get

November 1, 2011

Written by: Robert F. Dorr on September 26, 2011

Throughout the U.S. armed forces today, many feel that too few service members are receiving the nation’s top award for valor.

The Medal of Honor, in past wars a symbol of the selflessness and valor of American service members, has been mostly missing from America’s twenty-first century conflicts. Only ten Medals of Honor have been awarded for action in recent conflicts – six for Afghanistan and four for Iraq. The nation awarded 464 Medals of Honor for actions in World War II, 135 for the Korean War and 246 for Vietnam. On Oct. 7, 2011, the war in Afghanistan will enter its eleventh year, making Afghanistan the United States’ longest war if the length of U.S. involvement in Vietnam is measured from Aug. 7, 1964 to January 1973.

Military officers, historians and observers cite several reasons for the small total today. Although large numbers of troops are committed overseas (about 180,000 in both Afghanistan and Iraq), the number who fight in close-quarters combat is comparatively small and consists mostly of special operations forces. In Iraq, roadside bombs, also called improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are responsible for about 60 percent of U.S. casualties. “You can’t distinguish yourself by fighting back against an IED,” says retired Army Col. Fred L. Borch, an authority on awards and decorations.

But even allowing for today’s brand of warfare being different, service members believe that extraordinary acts of valor are taking place that warrant the top award and aren’t getting it. The main reason, they say, is that the process has become complex and intimidating. Many recommendations never get made because it’s simply too hard.

“Say you’re a commander in the field,” said a senior officer in a special operations unit. “Your captain comes running up to you and says, ‘I’ve got this kid who just displayed the most extraordinary bravery I’ve ever heard of.’ The captain hasn’t looked up the regulations yet but he’s got his award-writing pen out, ready to go. That’s when you have to tell him the facts of life.”

‘Not Worth It’

“You’re going to say to that captain, ‘Look. You want your guy to get recognition? A Silver Star is a serious award and it can be approved right here in the AOR [area of responsibility]. But if you want a service cross award or a Medal of Honor, it has to go to Washington. And it can take forever.’ Nine times out of ten, your captain is going to shrug and say, ‘Oh, hell. We’ll just put him in for the Silver. It’s just not worth it.'”

In 2006, when George W. Bush was president and only one Medal of Honor had been awarded in this century, Joseph A. Kinney wrote in the New York Times: “For reasons I can’t fathom, the Pentagon top brass don’t feel that our heroes in Iraq and Afghanistan are especially meritorious.” Kinney also wrote: “If President Bush awarded the medals at roughly the same rate [as in Vietnam] more than two dozen would have been bestowed by now.” Five years later, twice as much time having elapsed, the total has gone from one to ten.

Several writers cite Marine 1st Lt. Brian Chontosh as a hero who deserves higher recognition. As a platoon commander on March 25, 2003, during the invasion of Iraq, Chontosh became caught in the kill zone of an ambush. Without hesitation, he directed his Humvee directly at an Iraqi machine gun position, then dismounted and attacked the enemy trench, emptying his M16A2 rifle and 9mm pistol of ammunition, then twice picking up discarded enemy AK-47s to continue his attack. He then grabbed up an enemy rocket-propelled grenade launcher to finish his counter-assault. He single-handedly killed 20 Iraqis and wounded several while clearing 200 meters of trench line. Chontosh, who is now a major, received the Navy Cross, but has become a folk hero in the Marine Corps, and many Marines believe that he should receive the Medal of Honor.

Other Americans in uniform have excelled on the battlefield and may deserve higher recognition. Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, the sole survivor of a June 28, 2005 battle in Afghanistan that produced the highest award for Lt. Michael P. Murphy, believes every member of his four-man team should have received greater recognition. After cold-shouldering Army Capt. Will Swenson, a participant in a Sept. 8, 2009 firefight that secured the top award for Marine Corps Cpl. Dakota Meyer, the Army has now reversed itself and is considering Swenson for the Medal of Honor.

Cumbersome Process

By law, any person can nominate someone for the Medal of Honor. But much more is required than just writing a paragraph or two. The rules are spelled out in Department of Defense Awards Manual 1338.43, and they impose a colossal burden on the person making the nomination.

“At a minimum,” the manual dictates, a recommendation for the top valor award must be prepared in two copies and be “housed in a three-ring binder of appropriate size with an organized table of contents.” It must contain “forms, narratives, witness statements, graphs, diagrams and pictures” that are “clearly legible and visible.” The justification for the award “must be specific, factual, and provide concrete examples of exactly what the person did, how well he or she did it, what the impact of benefits were, and how he or she significantly exceeded expected duty performance.”

“The process is unbelievably complex, if not daunting,” says Borch. “The intent is to ensure that only the most deserving personnel are awarded the Medal of Honor, but the unintended consequence of it is that it takes a long time to get a nomination for the Medal of Honor to the president for his approval. For example, when a soldier is nominated for the MOH, there must be sworn statements, maps, diagrams and much detail attached to the recommendation for the award. All this takes a lot of time and a lot of effort and requires someone who can write well and express themselves clearly.”

Borch said it routinely takes two years or more for a Medal of Honor recommendation to be processed. The requirements for submitting a recommendation can be viewed at this site:

Some Americans, including some veterans’ groups, have urged Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to launch a review of the Pentagon’s awards process to bring it in line with previous wars. It appears to be time for Panetta to do exactly that.