Category: Dark Neighborhood (page 2 of 4)

On leadership and respect

Respect must automatically be given and it must be earned.

I saw a question on Quora this morning and it got me thinking about my time in the Army.

The key is that this line about respect goes in two different directions. A leader must give those he/she commands respect upon assuming the position. And then, the leader must earn their respect. A leader never assumes they automatically get respect as a person—the position they assume has respect built in to the institution, but never personal respect and the leader must earn that institutional respect or else lose it.

I found in the Infantry and Special Forces that I was never let down when I automatically gave respect to my soldiers upon assuming command of a unit. My mantra was: You’ve got my respect; all you can do is lose it.

I never said anything about getting their respect. I just had to earn it.

I took over a Scout Platoon that was reputed to be a bunch of losers and had just failed a major test. I noted something during the sign over of equipment. The outgoing platoon leader was hard on the men—he wanted to charge them immediately for every missing widget and doohickey (dohickey’s are important; they are what you use to pound on the widget– every mech infantry guy knows just get a bigger hammer and you can fix it!).

After we signed everything over and he departed, I brought everyone in, tore up the charge sheets and told everyone just make sure the gear was there tomorrow. And it was. I eventually learned they had deliberately failed that test because they hated being treated like children by the outgoing platoon leader.

Leaders always ate last in the chow line. Always. Leaders were the last out of the platoon CP. Leaders were the last out of the motor pool. Leaders got under their APC and broke track. Leaders signed out an M60 for the ruck march and carried more in their pack than anyone in their platoon.

Leaders serve their followers, not the other way around.

Leaders have to listen. When we returned to garrison from my first deployment in Special Forces, I learned something new. In the Infantry I cleaned my weapons. As I started to take apart my rifle, my team sergeant stopped me and told me to give it to the weapons sergeant. I initially didn’t want to—I felt my weapon was my responsibility and he shouldn’t have to take care of my gear. My team sergeant pointed out that it was his expertise. And that I had to respect his expertise. What the two of us needed to do was our responsibility: the After Action Report. Updating SOPs. Analyzing how we had led the team.

I loved how when we were in Isolation preparing for a mission, we could just portion out the mission to the experts. A direct action demo mission? The two engineer sergeants had to figure out how to blow up the target. My team sergeant figured out infiltration and exfiltration. Medics their thing. Commo their thing. Weapons their thing. Intel sergeant gathered the intel. I listened. I learned. But I also had to make the ultimate decisions.

The leader is always responsible. Always.

So. Anyway. Some Sunday morning thoughts.

I am well guarded here at my desk by my two vicious attack dogs, well-camouflaged in their new defensive positions my wife bought the other day.

Elle– a gripping, thoughtful and controversial movie

It was not what I expected from the reviews and comments I’d read. This movie is not viewed easily and takes time to digest. In fact, I know I have to watch it again because the flow was  unexpected in so many different ways.

The Director was Paul Verhoeven, whose career includes such films as Robocop, Total Recall, Basic Instinct, Showgirls and Starship Troopers. I thought the last one was simply awful; a terrible adaptation of Heinlein’s book so I wasn’t optimistic. Not that Showgirls was much good either. I thought Robocop was better than a lot of people critiqued it– something that we will see coming true. Basic Instinct– eh, not too thrilled.

But this was different than all of them. Very psychological. While the core of the movie is rape, I think it’s much more complex than that. It’s about people. All of them bringing their ego and narcissism to the table, yet also bringing an ability occasionally get out of themselves. Like real life. There were some scenes I didn’t buy off on, but since I’m a man, duh, I’ll refrain from commenting, although my wife agreed with me. And she’s smarter than me.

I was surprised to read that it was initially considered for filming in America. I just don’t see that. I thought it very much a French film. Isabelle Huppert was superb in a very difficult role. Definitely deserved her Oscar nomination.

What we take out of a book or show or film is tainted by what we bring to it: our perspective. One thing striking me lately is the ability of people to get out of themselves at critical times. When someone else is in crisis. The ability, or lack of it, at those times, is an insight into true character. I believe we get to know who someone really is in a crisis. This movie had many of those moments.

Lots of twists and turns in the plot. Definitely worth watching.

The key to the film was honesty. I showed people, as they really are. And that can be very disturbing.

Two paws up from Cool Gus.

Thoughts While Waiting On My Jeep Maintenance– some free audio

I’m wrapping up Valentines Day (Time Patrol),  which takes a nice zig-zag in the series, but I don’t want to give away too many spoilers. I’ll have it out next month. My web site is being completely redesigned and hope to have it live next week.

I’ve also put together a Readers Guide with all my books, in order, with some author notes, and all links. That will be out shortly. Talk about tedious. With around 70 titles or so, multiple platforms, etc. I had to do every single link by hand. I’m having someone else who is better at tedious check my work today. ‘m not good at tedious and detail work, which my wife will be glad to tell you about.

She came home from the food store yesterday and had me unpack the bags because she knew if she did it, I would have no idea what she bought, nor would I look. I’d simply starve. Well, not exactly. I do have my Soylent. Which is not a great name for a product, but it supposedly contains everything you need to live. A drink that looks pretty nasty, but doesn’t taste too bad. Drink a cup of that and eat a banana and your system will be cleansed. Full disclosure– Deb would say ignore me on the Soylent.

Anyone ever put an ipad or ipad mini in their dash? All I’ve got a GPS in the Jeep is my small iPhone which, while worth the same as my health insurance, is really hard to see.

My wife, who is smarter than I, came up with an idea for a new book. From Gus’s point of view. I kind of like the idea. Especially given the fact the cartoon on the right is true. Anything about Cool Gus gets a lot more hits on social media than I do.  Actually it would be a series of short stories that Gus would tell. More to come.

Nine-Eleven is now live on audiobook here. I’ve got around 10 free download codes for it so I’ll go with the first ten who email me for those. But you do know you can get it for free if you don’t have an Audible account just by signing up for one for free? Then if you don’t want to pay anything, just cancel the account?  It’s a thought.

Deb and I are also looking for a new, funny, TV series. We do Big Bang and Modern Family. We watch Santa Clarita Diet’s season and that was different. We’re thinking of going back and re-binging something like Frasier. But anything new? Any suggestions? 

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