Know Yourself and Seek Self-Improvement

Know Yourself and Seek Self-Improvement

My first encounter with the U.S. Navy’s leadership framework came when I was barely 18 years old. I was young and eager to do well as a new midshipman in Villanova University’s Navy ROTC program. Like everyone else starting at college, I was also trying to adjust to the basics of education and life away from home. Unlike our fellow freshmen, however, we midshipmen were also beginning our introduction to military service. 

Part of that initial training involved memorizing numerous facts. 

Facts about ranks, facts about weapons, facts about history.

And facts about leadership. Quite a few useful models of leadership behaviors and traits exist across all of the U.S. military branches, but one that I’ve revisited lately is the U.S. Navy’s Leadership Principles. They’re virtually the same as principles claimed by other services (such as the U.S. Army), but 

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Never Give Up, Never Stop Learning

Never Give Up, Never Stop Learning

Although I teach courses on various topics related to leadership, I’m quick to admit it: Learning a lot about leadership won’t necessarily make you a great leader. 

Similarly, just because someone has 20 years of experience doing something doesn’t necessarily make him or her an expert. It’s quite possible—and common—for people to have the same experience, 20 years in a row. 

What oftentimes elevates truly great leaders above the rest is their tenacity, their commitment to never give up—and to never stop learning. It’s their ability to persevere through adversity with an open mind, applying the lessons they acquire along the way. 

One such leader whom I’ve always enjoyed listening to and reading about is United States Marine Corps General James Mattis (ret.). Among recent military leaders, Mattis is a legend, particularly if you talk with other U.S. Marines. 

Stories about his selfless, direct style of leadership abound. 

Additionally,

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On Gratitude, Agility and Career Transitions

On Gratitude, Agility and Career Transitions

When I was a teenager, I thought I had it all figured out: My life and career would be a logical series of steps and accomplishments. I’d go to college, earn an officer’s commission in the U.S. Navy, see the world. Then, I’d probably go to law school and enjoy another set of logical steps of accomplishments toward “success” in the civilian world. 

Reality, of course, is different. 

Life—and careers—are often full of twists and turns, punctuated by triumphs and failures. Some of those ups and downs are big and public, most are

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