Friday, May 23, 2008

If not you, then who?

It's one of my favorite sayings. "If not you, then who? If not now, then when?"

The quote is by a first-century Jewish scholar named Hillel, and it's equally applicable now as then. I love it, because it sums up how I have tried to look at my life, and it has served me very well. Let's break it down, shall we?

"If not you, then who?" Let's face it, someone has to step up. We're often faced with incompetent peers, unmotivated, unknowledgeable leaders, and subordinates who are a result of that environment (they are incompetent and unmotivated, primarily through lack of training and emphasis). And we also meet the "seagull leaders." You know, the ones who fly in, make a lot of noise, crap all over everything, and fly out again with no contribution (other than a pile of crap). Someone has to fill that leadership void. Let that someone be you. Like Patton said, "A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week." A good leader, willing to take charge and make progress now, is better than a great leader further on down the road. And who knows? You might just be that great leader.

I've often found that, even if you're faced with a situation you aren't all that familiar with, someone in your organization knows the process and the techniques, and is just waiting for a leader to get them going. To provide them with the three hallmarks of good leadership: Purpose, Direction, and Motivation.

So step up. Get in there and take charge. Yeah, it's probably more work for you, and if you're like me, then you're a lazy sack. But waiting won't help, and will probably make things worse. Which leads me to my next point....

"If not now, then when?" Problems, like fish, do not smell better with age. Waiting will not make it go away, and will not improve your lot. So if you're going to be that guy (or girl), then you need to be that guy right now or risk having things spiral completely out of control and be unrecoverable.

The cool thing is that this part of the quotation is completely dependent upon the first half. You have to be willing to step up, to assume the difficult role of the leader, and to take responsibility for successes and failures. And you have to do it NOW, on the spot, because waiting for conditions to improve isn't going to help anything. Systems tend towards entropy, whether we're talking about collections of atoms or people. And unless you are willing to impose order on the chaos, right now, you're not a useful leader.

Men's Health magazine did an article on heroes. I don't have time to find the link right now, but you should look it up, because it's really good. And the bottom line for these guys (the heroes) is that they're "ordinary" people in their own minds, who saw a problem and figured something had to be done now, so why not just do it?

OK, so on to practial applications. For me, (duh) it comes down to the Army again. They tell us as privates not to volunteer for anything. To be middle-of-the-road, and to avoid notice. If we do that, we hear, we'll be successful. Hooey, I say. If everyone's middle-of-the-road, then who's in charge? Who do we follow? I have volunteered for a lot of stuff in my Army career (I'm sure Jen can give you a rundown, and then she'll kill me for reminding her), and every time, I come out ahead. Yeah, it means more work. Yeah, it's long hours and not a lot of reward (other than more work). But the mission gets accomplished and the Soldiers get taken care of, and I end up a better Soldier, more knowledgeable, and more able to handle situations in the future. In short, I become a better leader.

It works in non-Army situations, too. Who is going to mow my lawn? Is someone going to come around and do it for me? What about paying my bills? Unless I win the McDonald's Monopoly game, no one is going to hand me money.

What about helping out the lady in the ward who can't switch over her swamp cooler by herself? Or landscaping the yard of the woman whose husband is deployed and needs it done so she can take in some foster kids?

We, the leaders, have to step up. We have to step up now, and get these things done. Because no one else will, and no one can do it as well as we can.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers I know. This is for you all:

But especially for my wife. You're the greatest mother I know, and I love you.
And for my mom. You're the best mom I've ever had.
And for my mother(s) in law. You both rock.
And for everyone else. Because, let's face it. I probably won't call, or email, or anything like that. But you're on my mind.
Happy Mother's Day.
W Out.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

My Peeps

So, I got to thinking about my recent posts, and I realized that I haven't paid any attention to the people that are making me so successful. So here it is, a post dedicated to my Soldiers.

Actually, these are only half of my peeps. The other half are in another country, working for me down there. I will give them credits at the end of the post.
So without further ado...
From left to right, PFC Noonan, PFC Sinclair, SSG Etienne, SGT Severson, PFC Chapman.
Sinclair, Severson, Etienne, Noonan.
What a bunch of clowns.

There's one missing, who was on night shift. He's SPC Gonzalez.

I can definitively say, these guys are the hardest working Soldiers in the battalion. Mostly because I'm mean and give them a lot of work to do. But also because they manage the day-to-day functions of my network. These guys can do it all- radios, computers, satellite communications, and still do PT in the morning, go to the gym at night, and clown around the rest of the time.

And here's why I love the Army- I have a huge mix of people. I have Soldiers from the east coast, the South, and Texas. Suburbs, country, and city folk. Folks on their first deployment, and folks on their fourth. And all of them are committed to being successful, to bettering themselves, and to accomplishing the mission. I don't have a single discipline problem, because they take care of each other. My NCOs (Staff Sergeant Etienne, Sergeant Severson) are committed to taking care of the Soldiers, to looking out for each other, and taking care of me.

And my guys down south are no different. I have a Lieutenant, a Sergeant First Class, two Sergeants, and two Soldiers (LT Gonzalez - another one, SFC Morton, SGT Ohlson, SGT Williams, SPC Stevenson, and SPC Hornschuch). They are all making great things happen, and taking care of each other.

And the coolest thing is that these guys don't think of themselves as extraordinary. No, according to them they're just doing their jobs, doing what leaders do. And that's the beauty of the Army. People say it's changing, and they're probably right, but what I see is that leaders who are empowered will take care of their troops, make great things happen for the Soldiers, themselves, and the mission, and when they eventually get out, they're going to be successful.

Those are my peeps, and the reason I'm staying in the Army. Wherever I go, I'm going to meet people like this.

PS -I will post pics of my other guys as soon as I get some. I am an equal opportunity employer