For this edition of The Griffon, we were given the theme of “Change”. Undoubtedly, we could all write an entire book on the topic. I am not going to do that but instead offer a short article that might help everyone rethink or at least help with the inevitable.
Anyone in every position today certainly understands that there is going to be change, not only in your life but in the military as well. I think how you embrace that change is not only how you will be perceived but also how far you will advance in your career. We all love to sit around and tell stories about how we used to do it or how things were (obviously harder) back when we did the same job or mission.
One story that comes to mind is when I was a first sergeant over an infantry basic training company during “pickup day”. It was just like clockwork, sitting in our morning huddle listening to all twelve drill sergeants make fun of the new recruits stating, “This is the worst group of privates we have ever seen,” or “This is the worst bunch ever”. That’s when it hit me that this is probably the same thing that every drill sergeant had said about every one of them as well as what my (Marine) drill instructors said when I went through. As I explained this repetitive behavior to my “drills”, we all laughed but it did seem to make them take a step back and reevaluate the way we perceived the new privates. This is the sort of thing I would challenge each of you to do every day. Change the way you are thinking especially when it’s all negative. It is easy to bandwagon the negative, but it takes a leader to center on the positive.
Today’s Army seems to be changing faster than ever. Whether you are talking about the implementation of Futures Command or the promotion process. We also have uniform and equipment updates that seem to change almost yearly (many are welcomed improvements), along with new grooming and appearance changes (detailed in Army Regulation 670-1) that include finger nail polish for men and bald heads for women. It can be more than some can handle and it is ok for you to decide that it’s time to hang it up. That’s not derogatory; it’s just a fact, it might be time to go.
In today’s world of “Microsoft Teams” and virtual training, now more than ever, we have to be ready for change. But as leaders, we not only have to expect it, we have to embrace it and sell it to those Soldiers who we are directly responsible for. Remember, there is always someone watching what we are doing or saying, so be mindful of what you say in public, or even when you think no one can hear. We have ways to submit concerns and complaints, but, if it isn’t immoral, unethical, illegal or unnecessarily dangerous, we need to accept it and talk it up because those changes are our reality.
It’s easy for us as Soldiers to fall into the old school way of thinking but that is not the way of the future. If you fall into this trap, you are going to be left behind. We all have mentors such as platoon sergeants or just people we looked up to who were the old grit of the Army that we wanted to be like when we moved up. You all know who am talking about. That kind of leader was fine back then but with today’s standards and changes, it’s up to us as leaders to grow along with the Army as we move forward in our military careers.
Today’s generation is moving at light speed; they are used to things changing daily. We have to understand that and be ready to not only except these changes but sell them to Soldiers to the left and right of us because we are not going back. It’s what’s best for the Army and this great nation that we are sworn to defend.