Lead with the best version of yourself.

Quit Turning the Bubbles Green

The Man in the Stands

By Joe Byerly

It’s the critic who counts; the man who points out when we stumble, or where we could have done better. It’s the one in the stands, who’s well above the dusty floor with a beer in one hand and a warm hot dog in the other, not having to worry about coming up short again and again, because they remain seated, safely in the anonymity of the crowd. The man in the stands plays it safe. They know no great enthusiasms, no great devotions, no worthy causes. No, they’ve never dared greatly so they are strangers to both victory and defeat.

Resistance wants us to remain as the Man in the Stands because when we answer the Call and embark on the Hero’s Journey, we step onto the Arena floor, and all bets are off. 

Wesley Schultz stepped into the Arena in grade school when he wrote poems in his spiral notebook. As he got older, he taught himself to play the guitar. By the time he graduated high school, he had written and recorded his own songs on a CD that he gave his dad for Christmas. 

While others went to college and found normal 9-5 jobs, Wesley continued to practice. He continued to refine his musical ability. He worked whatever crappy jobs he could find to make ends meet. 

You would think that friends and family would have cheered him on and told him to keep going, but they didn’t. Resistance doesn’t work that way. It uses other people to hold us back. They told him to grow up, to take life seriously, to get a real career. 

Wesley refused to walk on the well-worn path. He created his own. He answered his Call, and he stayed the course even as Resistance, sitting high above the Arena floor, questioned his choices.

At some point in our lives, most of us set aside our gifts to do what the world wants us to do. We focus on school or our jobs and follow preset career paths. 

Recognize that this is a choice, and that you can choose the path less traveled if you so desire.

Even after you answer the Call, understand that it will be difficult. Resistance will use the Man in the Stands to scare you into submission. There will be people in your life who don’t see what you are trying to do. Yes, they love you. Yes, they think they are looking out for your best interests. However, they won’t understand your Call no matter how crystal clear it is to you, because it’s not theirs to understand. 

Wesley says there were moments when it hurt and he felt misunderstood by friends and family. He didn’t see the crappy jobs and struggles as a dead end. He saw what they didn’t. He understood what they didn’t. The struggles he faced were the material for his Calling. He was on his path. 

People will question your ability to change. They will encourage you not to risk it. They will warn you that you will fail. 

Do not look up from the Arena floor.

Do not give in. 

Do not try to explain yourself. 

Do not waste time crafting clever responses to naysayers in your social media feeds. 

The only thing you can do is keep going and putting in the work. 

Understanding Sun Tzu through the Mongols

by Chris Horvilleur

Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, written in 400 BC, has shaped strategic thinking for nearly two and a half millennia, foremost amongst military minds but also recently amongst western business leaders. The breadth of the book’s impact makes it worthwhile for military leaders at all echelons to understand its basic structure and principles and consider its efficacy via historical case study. 

The Art of War consists of thirteen chapters which may be grouped into four sections. Chapter One identifies the critical calculations prior to war. These calculations include identifying the morale of the people, climate, geography, leadership and logistics. The next chapter lays out the costs and dangers of mobilizing a state to go to a protracted war. Then chapters 3-12 describe commanders’ skills in the way they lead, maneuver and organize their Army, as well as assessing the terrain and their enemy. The final section, chapter 13, concludes by explaining the importance of spies and intelligence. 

This piece explores three principles (each one a chapter) from The Art of War: picking battles, knowing thy enemy, and using diplomacy as a weapon. In order to bring these principles to life, I will provide historical examples of Sun Tzu’s maxims using case studies from the Mongol military victories of the 12th through 13th centuries. The Mongols, at their height, built the most extensive single-connected Empire in world history—via military conquest according to Sun Tzu’s principles. Leaders today, in our era of great power competition can glean much from these principles.

4 Types of Officers; and How to Develop Yourself and Others

By Joel Smith 

The Four Types of Officers

As a young officer I read German General Kurt Von Hammerstein-Equord’s four officer categories; they are 1) the clever, 2) the industrious, 3) the lazy, and 4) the stupid.

“I divide my officers into four classes as follows: the clever, the industrious, the lazy, and the stupid. Each officer always possesses two of these qualities. Those who are clever and industrious I appoint to the General Staff. Use can, under certain circumstances, be made of those who are stupid and lazy. The man who is clever and lazy qualifies for the highest leadership posts. He has the requisite nerves and the mental clarity for difficult decisions. But whoever is stupid and industrious must be got rid of, for he is too dangerous.” (Von Hammerstein, 1933)

“You can use the brilliant but lazy man as a strategist, a brilliant but energetic man as a Chief of Staff, but God help you with a dumb but energetic man.” (Gen Douglas McArthur)

 By swapping out a few terms for contemporary ones, we get four base archetypes:

Lazy and dumb: Doesn’t do much, but doesn’t cause problems, can be of use under certain circumstances. Needs supervision and you can trust them with simple tasks.

Lazy and intelligent: Has the intellect necessary to make strategic decisions, and doesn’t expel too much energy on inconsequential issues.  They focus their energy on gaining efficiency, saving cost, and reducing risk over the long-term.

Hardworking and dumb: Not self-aware, doesn’t know what they don’t know, and won’t ask for directions. They actively make things worse. These people can be quite affable and charming. They often ‘talk a big game’ but can’t deliver, they are dangerous.

Hardworking and intelligent: Tackles problems, relentless, does not accept defeat. This type, when armed with commander’s intent and end state, will find a way to solve any problem necessary to achieve results.

A Letter to My Younger Self on Graduation Day

by Nikiay Comer 

Graduation week is here and you’ve felt a wave of emotions in anticipation of its arrival. You’re looking forward to accepting your diploma in front of your family and friends who have traveled far and wide to support you on this special day. You will soon be a commissioned officer. 

For some, commissioning is a time to be joyful and excited about what the future brings. For you and others, commissioning brings excitement from completing a milestone but also uncertainty—anxiety—about the future. You’re not sure if you’re ready. Although you have put so much hard work into preparing yourself to be a leader, you wonder if you’ve learned enough. As a cadet, you have completed many types of military training, leadership and character development lessons, and physical readiness classes. Even still, you may think you’re not ready. But I’m here to tell you that you are. It is okay that you don’t know everything there is to know about leadership. Knowledge will come with experience. However, at this very moment, you have what you need to be a good leader.  

The Impact of Moral Efficacy on Army Readiness

by Marc Meybaum, Cole Cannon, & Brian Martinez

You stand in the hot sun of a motor pool staring down at a sea of equipment layouts. You have been desperately trying to manage the ream of property book pages as you conduct your change of command equipment inventories. You have been acclimating to your new unit over the past few weeks and are very eagerly trying to earn their trust. 

You have reached a decision point, the equipment in front of you is in no way serviceable. 

Your outgoing counterpart informs you this is exactly how they received it and it will never be needed. Your timeline is tight, and you know this could really slow you down. The supply representative assures you that this will “take care of itself,” and there is no need to make an issue where one doesn’t exist. Although his words are tempting, you know they don’t sound quite right, though they don’t sound fully wrong either….

You Are Your Best Career Manager

by  Brandon Eans

As a career manager, I think daily about the advice my former First Sergeant offered me over eight years ago: “You are your best career manager”. 

I was a First Lieutenant serving as an Executive Officer for a Field Artillery Battery. At the end of the workday, I would occasionally sit with the First Sergeant in his office where we would discuss the operations of the Battery. As a young officer, I valued this time as it was an opportunity to gain mentorship from the most senior Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) within the Battery. On this particular day, my First Sergeant voiced his frustration on certain NCOs who were not properly managing or maintaining their records in preparation for an upcoming promotion board. It was here that he gave the simple, yet profound, advice that I would use to guide my own career and as a cornerstone for my mentorship philosophy. It drove me to actively manage my own career, update my Officer Record Brief (ORB), and initiated thoughts of how I hoped to serve in the Army. 

Thought Partner: A Primer

by Nicholas A. Rich

I recently spent a weekend with a good friend. After the long weekend, I received a message from him thanking me for being both a friend, and a “thought partner.”  I met him in the Army in 2015, and we deployed to Iraq together in December 2016. He has been a pace-setter in every organization he’s been a part of, including nowadays as a civilian in Washington D.C. After the weekend, I reflected on our friendship and took a moment to appreciate a connection that I wouldn’t have had without the Army guiding me to it. Throughout our friendship this thought partner has helped me navigate a handful of different experiences, he even challenged and motivated me to go through Ranger School as a logistics officer. Out of the Army he provides other insights about how to integrate technology, think about funding, or utilize different leadership styles. From this friendship, I continue to grow. 

Fight The Tank! A Practical Lesson in Army Leadership

by Marc E. “Dewey” Boberg, Ed.D. 

Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.” – John Wooden

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

Shortly after commissioning and attending the Armor Officer Basic Course (now ABOLC) I reported to Fort Hood, Texas. I was quickly assigned to the 1/12 Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division, where I became an M1A1 tank platoon leader in 3rd Platoon, D Company. All my Soldiers and NCOs were veterans of the first Gulf War—I literally was the only one without combat experience. My platoon sergeant was Sergeant First Class Anthony Garcia. SFC Garcia was a tank Master Gunner with more than 17 years of experience. He would become the most influential person in my training especially as it pertains to understanding tanks and practical lessons in Army leadership.

Lessons From the Dark Side: Leadership by Vader

by Eric Shockley

The presentation with the Emperor had not gone well. Progress on the completion of the Death Star had been slow.  Delays, complications with contractors, hiring challenges, and the ongoing war with the Rebel Alliance had all negatively impacted the site becoming fully operational. The Emperor had honed in on every task with a Red completion status, quizzing Vader relentlessly for over six hours. He’d been on the job for all of two days. As he let out a slow sigh, he remembered that this was the life, the constant demands simply a given now that he was a senior leader.