Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

November 22nd, 2015

Dear Mason,

Holy crap, time flies. Thanksgiving is in a few days. You’re getting so big! You make your mother and me so happy! You are definitely hard to keep up with, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I hope you have enjoy reading these blog posts. Writing them helps me clear my head. It helps me stay on the right path and relieve stress at the same time. I probably won’t be so stressed if I’d write more often. 

A lot has happened since my last post. I don’t see how’s it’s possibly been since early March, but the date doesn’t lie. I applied for a couple of jobs that I thought were promising around that time. I was working at Minco for $12 an hour at the time. As much as I liked working there, I couldn’t support this family on that. However, I was very grateful for the job. I learned a lot about cars and trucks. I’ll have those skills to help me with my hobbies for the rest of my life. This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for that job. It saved me twice – before and after the indoor shooting range. Let me tell you a story about the importance of endurance. 

When I got back from Iraq in 2008, I didn’t have much direction in life. However, that wasn’t anything new. I was basically an idiot. I bought a CTS-V with my deployment money. I rented a house. I starting working part-time at Precision Motorsports and collecting the G.I. Bill. It wasn’t long before I was broke again. Because I didn’t plan for my future at all, I fell on hard times. Again. 

In December of 2008, right around the very end of the year, I got laid off. The economy was getting bad, and I started collecting unemployment. It was $275 a week. I had a hard time paying my car payment and paying my rent. I sold the CTS-V of which I paid $21,000 for $13,000. I sold a couple of my guns to pay my rent. I started working, apparently for free, at a place called Centurion Tactical. That’s another story entirely. The owner of Centurion got arrested later, and I was only there for a couple months. A few months after that, I got arrested and that ended up getting me kicked out of the Marine Corps counterintelligence “DEP” program. That’s yet another story for another day. 

So as you can probably see, 2009 was a super shitty year for me. I did have one saving grace that year. I married your mother. It was “fairy tale,” and your mother and I were very lucky to have such a nice wedding. However, that didn’t change the fact that I was unemployed and on pre-trial release. I continued to go to community college and finally graduated from that stupid place. The GI Bill and unemployment was the only thing that saved me. Without that, I have no idea what I would have done. 

In 2010, my lawyer screwed me. I was put on probation for four years and committed to 180 Sheriff work camp days. I mean, I got royally fucked. So I had to start doing that crap too. I was still talking to my dad at this point, and I came up with the idea of an indoor shooting range. I was writing a business plan for the indoor shooting range pretty much the entire year that year. While that was getting off the ground, I managed to get my first real job in years. I worked full-time for a lawn care company before I got deployed in 2007. So in 2010, I started working for Minco, and that pretty much changed my life for the better. 

I can’t explain how much fun I had at Minco. I learned so much about working on cars and trucks. I was very thankful to get that opportunity. After only about a year and a half of making $12 an hour, I made a giant mistake. I left Minco to work with my dad at the indoor range for $10 an hour. I had been working on getting the indoor shooting range up and running since mid-2009. It was now Black Friday 2011 and my first official day working at the range. It was our grand opening. It was exciting at first. Then, it started to get frustrating. 

I wouldn’t find out how much of a disaster things were until later. The tension between my father and I got worse and worse. My mother told me at one point, Dad didn’t talk to her for about two weeks. He said he felt “alienated” and everybody was against him. What a piece of shit. I walked out on everything I had done – the planning, the writing, the arguing, the designing, the future, the investment. I walked out on my own business idea and on my own father on October 27th, 2013. I haven’t talked to him since. 

Luckily, I walked right back into Minco. I didn’t plan it, but because I had worked hard there previously, the boss was happy to have me back. At this point in time, my endurance was running out. Let me explain. It’s now the end of 2013, and I’ve been completely broke since 2008. I’ve slowly sold most of my stuff. I had nothing but a motorcycle for a long period of time. I had been to jail, probation officer meetings for two years, Sheriff work camp days for two years. I was yet to graduate, but at this point in time, I didn’t see the fucking point. I was mentally ready to give up. 

The year 2014 rolls around. I was working at Minco at age 30, and I think that’s what made me spiral. Just the fact that I was 30 years old and had a kid on the way made me feel like a piece of shit for making $12 an hour. Nothing was making me happy. I’d go to the gym and work and class, and when I got in bed, I’d cry myself to sleep in my head. If it wasn’t for you, and obviously your mother, I wouldn’t be here today. Those were dark days, Mason. I didn’t know how much endurance I truly had. Nobody ever knows. The only thing you can do is keep at it. No matter how bad things seem, they could always be worse. And even if things get worse and worse for so many years that you think you just can’t take it anymore, that you just can’t go on for one more second, stick to it for one more second and prove yourself wrong. Count to ten. Get rid of everything in your mind. Start from scratch on a new plan of attack. Don’t ever give up on yourself, but more importantly, don’t ever fucking give up on the people that love and need you. That includes your future wife, your future son, your future brothers or sisters, your future adopted brothers in the Marine Corps. You may want to quit, but you can’t. Ever. 

I kept working the dead end job at Minco until July of this year. I kept going to night classes until right around the time you were born. I later graduated with a business management degree. I finally got an awesome, well paying job. It’s Thanksgiving 2015, and your mother and I, as of last paycheck, are finally sleeping good at night because we aren’t worried about money. We are far from rich, but at least we have more than $-29 in our checking account. 

Endurance is the mental and physical stamina that is measured by your ability to withstand pain, fatigue, stress, and hardship. For example, enduring pain during a conditioning march in order to improve stamina is crucial in the development of leadership.

Endurance is the mental and physical stamina that is measured by your ability to withstand pain, fatigue, stress, and hardship. It’s ironically the last of the 14 Marine Corps leadership traits. It takes more than just endurance to be a great leader, but you cannot be a great leader without great endurance. 

Love,

Dad

From probably my most favorite website: SOFREP.com

– Rob

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Reply to “10 Reasons Not to Vote for a Veteran”

By: Loren Schofield

I want to start off by saying that just because someone is a Veteran, it doesn’t mean they will be a good leader in the political arena. Notice I didn’t say politician. The military is full of politicians and they are generally regarded as extremely poor leaders. Look at what’s happening with the Marine Corps and you will understand what I am saying. What America needs in D.C. is fewer politicians and more leaders.

Politicians worry only about two things – power and re-election. A leader cares about his mission and his people, not about himself. A leader has a vision and can share that with people. A leader can motivate his supporters and provide a plan for how they can accomplish his vision.

You would be hard-pressed to find a better leadership school than the U.S. Military, especially during a time of war. The skills learned in order to successfully lead troops in combat are applicable in all areas of the civilian workforce, to include politics. The biggest failure that we as vets have (especially veteran organizations that are involved in politics) is vetting the candidates.

I want to start off by saying that just because someone is a Veteran, it doesn’t mean they will be a good leader in the political arena. Notice I didn’t say politician. The military is full of politicians and they are generally regarded as extremely poor leaders. Look at what’s happening with the Marine Corps and you will understand what I am saying. What America needs in D.C. is fewer politicians and more leaders.

Politicians worry only about two things – power and re-election. A leader cares about his mission and his people, not about himself. A leader has a vision and can share that with people. A leader can motivate his supporters and provide a plan for how they can accomplish his vision.

You would be hard-pressed to find a better leadership school than the U.S. Military, especially during a time of war. The skills learned in order to successfully lead troops in combat are applicable in all areas of the civilian workforce, to include politics. The biggest failure that we as vets have (especially veteran organizations that are involved in politics) is vetting the candidates.

The military is a small world, and anytime a vet announces that they are going to run, all veterans organizations should locate as many people who served with and under them. This should be done before any support is given to them, in order to determine the candidates character and what kind of leader they are, and verify any and all claims. This vetting process would help with charges of stolen valor and would weed out the politicians in order to make way for leaders. Once they are vetted, it should be a full-court press to get behind them with all available resources.

In Robert Heinlein’s book, Starship Troopers, the only way people could vote or hold office was if they had served in the Military.

“So what difference is there between our voters and wielders of franchise in the past? Under our system every voter and officeholder is a man who has demonstrated through voluntary and difficult service that he places the welfare of the group ahead of personal advantage.”

I don’t necessarily think that it should be a pre-requisite for military service, but the point is valid; service (of any kind, Rand Paul is an eye doctor and does volunteer eye surgeries) and the ability to endure hardship, shows that they value something that is greater than themselves and have shown the willingness to sacrifice everything for that greater good. This is an admirable trait for anyone who wants to hold political office.

This post is a reply to James Gourley’s 10 Reasons Not To Vote For A Veteran. I will go point by point with Mr. Gourley’s article. I will not attack him and his service, as some have done. I never served with him so I will leave that to others, but I’m stunned that someone who has served would turn and betray his brothers with such a shameful and condescending article as this.

10. We are really bad at managing tax dollars.

I won’t even pretend to defend the massive amount of waste and incompetence that is involved in any aspect of procurement at the Pentagon. The fact that they are going to destroy 1 billion dollars worth of ammo is just a drop in the bucket of the waste that happens. But most of that waste happens at starship levels, or as part of the bureaucracy.

What isn’t mentioned in the article is the fact that commanders are given a budget at the beginning of the fiscal year, and within that budget they have to prioritize the unit’s needs. The commander sometimes has to make hard decisions between equipment, training and supporting his men with what they want and need. The biggest waste you usually see at lower levels is a flood of money and ammo that magically appears in SEP and has to be used. This is usually because somewhere higher up, someone held money back in an “emergency” fund that has to be spent immediately or it is lost. That is not the fault of the commander who was diligent with the budget he was given. How many politicians can manage their personal budget, much less that of the United States?

9. We’re just as political as the politicians.

“One of the biggest messages veteran political candidates like to promote is that they want to bring “real leadership” to office instead of “politics.” This means one of three things: that the candidate doesn’t understand what leadership is, that the candidate doesn’t understand how political office works, or that the candidate understands both and is fully aware their statement is a nonsensical platitude.”

Is he saying a true leader can’t be a politician? Is he so jaded by D.C. politics that anyone who wants to serve has to sell their soul? That if you want to make a difference you are naïve? I don’t know exactly what he means, but I don’t think I like the world that has people like him in power.

“I attended the U.S. Air Force Academy with New York State Senator Greg Ball. As a sophomore cadet, he was quite open about his desires to run for political office. The guy hated the school (not that I blame him, I did too). But he knew that a service academy class ring and a good military record would help him get into office.”

This story explains why everyone who runs for office needs to be vetted.

8. Being a Vet doesn’t make us a morally superior candidate.

People are people; there are the good and the bad. Being a politician is supposed to be about service, about working for your constituents and your nation. I know that sounds like an antiquated sentiment, but all you have to do is look at the amorality of current politicians who live and work in the ethical wasteland of D.C. to know that anyone who would replace those that currently “serve” can’t possibly be worse.

Being a vet doesn’t make someone morally superior, but it does show their character and that they believe in things like honor, loyalty and sacrifice, which I think are worthy traits for a public servant.

7. Combat isn’t an accomplishment.

“But physical courage has only relative value in the halls of Congress, which hosts an entirely different type of butchery.”

Reading this makes me question what someone’s service was like and saddened at what they have become. True, getting shot at isn’t an accomplishment worthy of higher office. If it were, every resident of Chicago, Baltimore, D.C., Oakland or any major U.S. city would be eligible for political office. But the people who volunteer to go into harm’s way, many of them over and over, then volunteer to go to D.C. and brave “an entirely different kind of butchery” show the importance they place on service. That dedication and sacrifice is a remarkable achievement. An achievement which those who vote for war don’t understand and apparently don’t care about, unless it benefits them politically.

Even though Mr. Gourley may not understand this, showing physical courage and surviving the hell of war gives people a special insight into the good and bad parts of human nature. When you have been surrounded by warriors, when you see courage and bravery month after month, what are you going to fear when you are in D.C. surrounded by the “ruling effete.”

6. We really don’t understand the average American.

“Most current serving veteran members of Congress are former army officers. They are college educated and many have graduate degrees. They began their military careers significantly higher on the pay scale than their civilian peers, never had to worry about health care, lived in the ultimate gated community, bought their groceries at federally subsidized stores, got all kinds of discounts when living on the civilian economy, were often given a pass on state income and sales taxes, and their pay raises and career advancement were more or less set to a stopwatch. Maybe being in the military is a real job, but it sure isn’t like any other job in the world, and for a lot more reasons than “the sacrifices” for which it calls.”

The arrogance of this statement is shocking due to the amount of ignorance and elitism that is shown from someone who has served. Comparing benefits that come nowhere near compensating for the months and years away from loved ones, the broken bodies and brothers who never made it home, as if it is a social entitlement that they in their charity give to us like a treat given to an unruly child to keep them quiet. You never hear them mocking the people whose wealth was inherited, went to Ivy League law schools and then directly into politics.

How can he say we don’t understand the average American? We ARE the average American. We come from all walks of life, religions, ethnicities and regions. There is no other occupation that people from all walks of life live and work together under such strenuous conditions and still love each other like brothers. Maybe politicians could learn a little something from us.

“Don’t assume that fighting for you on a battlefield means this person knows how to do it in a legislative body.”

A leader knows how to fight – both the enemy and for his men. If he is willing to risk his life and career in order to fight for his men, how much more will he do for the people from his district.

5. Our life experience is limited.

“Veterans have worked in some challenging conditions and done some great things. But they’ve also been uniquely equipped for success. Multiple studies have cited that only about 20 percent of Americans are eligible for military service. That’s the demographic veteran candidates have worked with. Also keep in mind that, as officers, they are the top 1 percent of that 20 percent. They have never been in a job environment that routinely demanded them to build consensus, make compromises, or negotiate plans. It’s an extremely hierarchal organization where everyone’s job and authority exist in a crystalline lattice, units rarely have to worry about budgets, and the preferred method of getting people to do your will is punitive coercion. In other words, it’s everything the government is not.”

Tell this to the young LT, or CPT who brokered a peace among tribal elders, who had to walk the minefield of religion, culture, tribe and hatred hundreds of years old trying to keep them as allies and not make them enemies. After dealing with that, walking the halls of Congress is a piece of cake. Senators and lobbyists won’t plant an IED along your route if you make a mistake.

4. We’re overrepresented as it is.

“The current Congress has 88 veterans in the House and 18 in the Senate. That’s a representation of 16 and 36 percent, respectively. Estimates put veterans between 7-12 percent of the total U.S. population”

The Number of elected officials who have served has plummeted to its lowest point since World War II (CNN). In 1975, over 70% of those elected had served in the armed forces.

Instead of being concerned about the ratio of vets, Mr. Gourley should be concerned about the massive overrepresentation of lawyers (45 of 100 senators and 128 of 433 representatives are lawyers). With only about one-in-five Americans (18%) saying lawyers contribute a lot to society (PEW research poll), and according to a current Rasmussen report only 6% of likely U.S. voters think Congress is doing a good or excellent job and 72% who say it would be better if most of them were defeated. Then throw out the fact that all major social and demographic groups view the military positively and 78% think the U.S. Military contributes a lot to society. It is easy to see why those in power are so scared about their ability to stay in power and it highlights the fear they have concerning vets.

The true importance of having a large percentage of vets in public office is a little more subtle. People who have volunteered to go to a war and witnessed violent death understand what is at stake. They know the price of asking men to fight and die for a cause and will not do so unless it is worthy. They understand what freedom and liberty truly are because they have seen the result of tyranny and oppression and would be more liable to try and block anything that would infringe on the liberties of the American people.

The previous point was such a stupid point that I questioned why he even added it, but then I read his next point and I think I understand….

3. We make a mess of the dialogue.

“The only things that make a bigger mess of American elections than our wars are the people that fight them.”

I suspect anyone and everyone who thinks that anytime our vets get involved in the political dialogue they screw it up? The people who don’t want veterans involved usually don’t like the values that the vets bring to the discussion. They want people who cave to pressure from senior members of their party, who are willing to “play the game” and don’t make waves. Anyone who actually stands for something and attempts to hold the politicians accountable are seen as troublemakers.

How can he think that the system we currently have is anything but a dysfunctional mess? When laws are passed and no one reads them. When the laws are written in such technical legalese, where it is impossible for anyone who isn’t a lawyer to understand, how can vets possibly make a bigger mess? It’s the most offensive and condescending comment on here, and I, for one, am pissed off about it.

2. The parties are just using us as poster children.

I agree with this. Anytime a politician wants to seem like they are strong on defense, or appear more patriotic, they end up at an event with military standing all around.

1. We actually do feel entitled!

For a graduate of the Naval Academy, with all the big words he likes to use, I don’t think Mr. Gourley understands the meaning of the word entitlement. As I stated on number 6, earning a benefit is not entitlement. Being proud of your accomplishments, and feeling that your experiences make you qualified is not being entitled. It’s being honest.

What should be concerning to us is the arrogance of some who feel that it is okay to mock and deride combat vets as if their knowledge, skills and experience are not “good enough” to serve in D.C. In my opinion, the recent attacks on several candidates regarding their military service, plus the speed in which the mainstream press talks about the ticking time bomb of PTSD that all combat vets apparently have, opened up a window into how a certain segment of those in power view us. Mr. Gourley is falling right in line with his co-worker Thomas E. Ricks, who said about Benghazi, “the focus on what was essentially a small firefight…” and “the emphasis on it was extremely political, because Fox News is operating as a wing of the Republican party” shows you where he stands politically and who his masters really are.

They are scared of veterans and now feel that they are free to attack and demonize vets, their service and focus only on the bad, in order to change the public’s opinion, and knock us down a few pegs with our demands for benefits and rights and entitlements.

Loren