I’d like to believe that everyone will one day in their life realize the truth of their own thoughts and have the confidence to trust them. That time when we no longer need affirmation of our every word. I’m certainly not suggesting that even when we reach that time that we close our minds to debate, only that we should all reach that time when we don’t feel like we have to be apologetic or overly guarded regarding expressing our thoughts.
Although I had been working on that confidence for years, that time truly arrived for me as I progressed through my training pipeline enroute to assume command of USS Arleigh Burke. But it wasn’t from a Navy instructor or even a formal class; rather it was in a private conversation with a new friend; a Special Forces (Green Beret) Colonel who took me aside for the sole reason that he understood the magnitude of the responsibilities inherent in military command and he felt obligated to share with me the single most important aspect of my development. But it wasn’t that I be courageous, or selfless, (things this man had in abundance) it was that I needed to embrace the fact that I had reached the point in my life where I didn’t have to apologize or be overly humble about those things I just knew to be true. As he had been many times in his career, he knew I’d be in situations that required split second clarity and he knew that without the self-confidence in myself to trust those things I’d learned throughout the previous years of my life, people would die or my ship could be knocked out of action.
This man, this Green Beret, knew that one thing every leader; no, every person, should realize sometime in their life; that things are as they are without needing to show or cite a reference. Knowing now the extensive training Army Special Forces undergo to wear the Green Beret (my son is in the throes of that training now), I have no doubt he took one look at me and knew I didn’t yet have that confidence. But rather than doing nothing, he pulled me aside and with only a few words convinced me to at last grab hold of that one thing because he knew without it, I'd likely fail those I was privileged to serve.
Realizing that one thing was the best thing that's ever happened in my life, because it allowed me to subjugate the instinctively humble side of my psyche to the side of it that knew what was right but sometimes lacked the confidence to say or do something about it.
The day I posted my first blog, my friend, Colonel Bill Davis, called me. I hadn't talked with Bill in months due to his battle with injuries incurred in combat decades ago. But he just knew I needed to hear his voice.
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7/12/2017 09:10:48 am
This post has been on my mind for a while now. While I mostly agree with you, and wish I'd had that confidence a number of times in the past, it also makes me think of my drilling reservist days. Most that I drilled with were fine people. Then again, there were some who had views I considered very retrograde. I would not have wanted them to feel free to express those views openly. They kept them private for the most part, but I don't doubt they were convinced of their correctness. The system did work as it should, and all of them that I know of were passed over twice for O5 and were out, but I wonder what kind of damage they might have done if they'd been activated.
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