Over the past several days, I have had the privilege to be surrounded by some major military brass. Saturday evening I counted 13 Generals in one room and Sunday there were twice as many, current and retired. We had a dining out, change of command and a promotion ceremony for my new, now 2 Star Commanding General, which is what brought all the brass out.
Having my Army unit at Ft Jackson, which is where most of the basic training takes place, I am able to see many young Soldiers just beginning their career in the Army. I find it amusing when I can walk in the PX and see a new Private and when they see I am an officer they literally freeze mid-step. I can’t imagine what they would do if a 2 star walked in.
I would like to share a few things I learned while briefing, talking, and listening to some of these generals.
You don’t become a General overnight. True leadership takes years and sometimes decades before you arrive at the top. My former Commanding General, who I have had the privilege of being her final Chaplain, while my father served as her Chaplain early in her career, first enlisted as a Private in 1974. Yes, you read that correctly, a Private and she retired as a 2 Star. Forty-two years to mold her leadership.
Sometimes it takes someone else believing in, encouraging and pushing you to reach the top. Right after the promotion ceremony for my new General, he shared that his mentor believed in him and encouraged him to attend War College and other schools necessary to push him to where he is today. He wanted to retire and not go thru the schools but he is forever grateful today he did.
Lastly, every General I spoke to this weekend talked to me and respected my MOS or position. Yes, they out rank me by a long shot and know they have far more experience in the Army, but they also know that I know my job and willing to hear my take on whatever it was we were talking about. I see so often in the civilian world, executives have a tendency to look down on those that are working so hard to make them look and be so successful. I appreciated them not treating me as a Captain but as a professional.