“I had a sort of a motto, “No details, no paper, and no regrets.” No details-don’t go about setting machine guns on different sides of bushes. That is done a damn sight better by a platoon commander. Then, no paper. You cannot entirely do without paper, but you can get rid of quite a lot of it. Do not have people coming to you with huge files, telling you all about it. Make the man explain it; and if he cannot explain it, get somebody else who can. When I say “no regrets”, that is important. You do the best you can. You may have gotten it wrong; you may have lost a battle. You may even have lost a good many of your men’s lives which hurts more, but do not have regrets. Do not sit in the corner and say, “Oh, If I had only gone to the left instead of the right,” or “If I had only fought in front of the river instead of behind it.” You have done the best you could-it hasn’t come off. All right! What’s the next problem? Get on to that. Do not sit in the corner weeping about what you might have done. No details, no paper, no regrets”
-Field Marshall Williams Slim (1891-1970)
The above quote is an excerpt from a speech given by Field Marshall Sir William Slim to CGSC in April of 1952. It was later published in the May 1990 edition of Military Review. The article titled, Higher Command in War , is an excellent read for leaders wishing to reflect on their own leadership philosophy. It’s also a great article to include in any leader professional development program.