Unique Leadership Axiom: In boot camp, where you learn to survive, the most primitive human needs are set aside every day for the accomplishment of the team mission.
It was the fourth day in boot camp. The drill instructor flipped on the lights and thundered, “Drop Your Cocks and Grab Your Socks.” All of the recruits were between 18 and 20 years of age. It did not matter that they were ROTC recruits. Building soldiers or building officers, the military applies the same rules and methods. We had 22 minutes to shower, shave, relieve ourselves and be in formation ready for morning exercise.
Was that crude wake up call just for intimidation? Or was it something more? Almost everything the DI says is a tool used to teach, to sensitize, to nurture, and to build structure. The structure being built is a winning team of winning warriors. The DI teaches each and every soldier to survive efficiently. Efficiency is a logistics issue. Efficiency is not wasting anything, whether it is energy, equipment, motivation or focus. Efficiency is nurtured in the training of a young recruit.
Healthy young men often wake up in the morning with “Morning wood”. The proper term for this phenomenon is Nocturnal Penile Tumescence! And most of them are acutely embarrassed to have anybody else notice. The DI’s heavy handed greeting stresses those who are embarrassed. Stress is an emotional exclamation mark. Stress focuses the mind of the recruit. Recruits will become soldiers. Soldiers are efficient team players. Efficiency implies an understanding of the boundaries between essential functions and personal wants. In this situation, the young recruit is learning that his focus must be on team function not irrelevant personal gratification.
As Bart Simpson says, “So what?” The efficient transformation of a group of easy-going young men into a team of survivable warriors is the job of the DI. Every word and every action of the DI is focused on nurturing change. There is no time for the recruit to ask why. There is no time for the recruit to say I do not understand. There is only time to nurture the strengths that nature has brought forth in the individual. These strengths in modern society may take years to become reliable. In effect, the boot camp is a kind of hothouse in which the recruits are forced to bloom in minimum time.
Leader’s Focus: It is said that nothing sharpens the mind so much as the threat of death. The military uses artificial stress to sharpen the minds and bodies of young recruits so that they may live. Whatever the nature of an organization, training under stress accelerates the learning process and nurtures the individual’s abilities.
My Take on Winning: America has grown from a nearly primitive society to one which can afford comfort for most. Most of us provide comfort for our children. If we do not also nurture them with stress, there will be some point, where they will meet a stress test which may be too much for them. The outside world sees America as soft because we are affluent. Throughout our history the economic trend has been upward. That could not have happened if we had not been nurtured through stressful experience.