Continuing To Reap Success Series, No. 1.
Sometime ago I read a fascinating book called Leading for a Lifetime, by Warren G. Bennis and Robert J. Thomas. They conducted two hour video-taped interviews with business leaders under the age of thirty-two and a second set over seventy. They were testing a theory about the influence of the time period in which leaders grow up. To their surprise they discovered that four qualities were cross-generational and central to every leader–something they had not supposed. I’m not going to list those qualities now, to avoid being sidetracked from the purpose of this article and to encourage you to read the book yourself.
“At least one national organization has formally embraced the idea of a crucible as a training ground for future leaders–and has found that it works. In the mid-1990s, with the economy booming and labor markets tight, the U.S. military services were struggling to meet their enlistment goals. The Army, Navy, and Air force decided to make their services more appealing by improving living conditions, allowing recruits more time with their families, and the like. The Marine Corps went the other way: It toughened up. General Charles Krulak, the Commandant, introduced ‘The Crucible’ to Marine training–an incredibly grueling fifty-four straight hours of live fire exercises, long marches, and deep deprivation at the end of basic training. After climbing the final hill in this test, recruits are presented with the eagle, globe, and anchor emblem. And with that, finally, they are Marines. Potential recruits rallied to the idea and the corps, alone among the services, saw its enlistment shoot up." [pp. xxvi-xxvii.]
“Reading this excellent book, I couldn’t help but wonder how America could provide more inspiring opportunities for the potential leaders of the next generation, both men and women. Is national service an answer? Wouldn’t it help if we created a national culture in which the young were expected to give at least a year back to the country. Wouldn’t many of them find their own crucible?” [p. xxix.]
Let's think together again, soon.