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17 Indispensable Leadership Quotes From Post-9/11 Generals
When it comes to building a successful life in the United States of America, there is no shortage of advice for aspiring leaders. Those that hope to one day command a team, launch a business, or run for political office can turn to the internet, books, or classes to learn tools of management, or they can look to military leaders.
Generals and admirals bring a unique perspective to the dialogue about how to galvanize the people around you to action. Those who served after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks have seen more than a decade of combat against a threat unlike any in American history, and it has given them deeper insight into the complex nature of how to serve as a leader.
Here are 17 quotes from post-9/11 generals that all good leaders should know by heart.
“Great powers don't get angry, great powers don't make decisions hastily in a crisis.”
— Gen. John Allen, to ABC News’s Martha Raddatz in an interview from Afghanistan in March 2012.
“If you’re not ready the moment things happen, then you’re irrelevant.”
— Gen. James Amos, discussing his vision for the U.S. Marine Corps with Men’s Health in June 2011.
"Clarity and simplicity are the antidotes to complexity and uncertainty."
— Gen. George Casey, in a commencement speech to an an MBA class at Cornell University in 2014.
“You are not a profession just because you say you are. You have to earn it and re-earn it and re-evaluate it from time to time.”
— Gen. Martin Dempsey, addressing leadership scandal, on training future generals and admirals on April 13, 2013.
“No plan ever survived the first contact with the enemy."
— Gen. Tom Franks, on his credo, stated multiple times throughout his career.
“Whatever goals we set for ourselves, we know we can go higher.”
— Adm. Michelle Howard discussing leadership in the Navy with Forbes in 2014.
“Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”
— Gen. James Mattis in a speech to Marines when they arrived in Iraq in 2003.
“Leaders can let you fail and yet not let you be a failure.”
— Gen. Stanley McChrystal in a 2014 TED Talk on disruptive leadership.
"Our leaders can't feel compelled to tell their bosses what they want to hear."
— Gen. H.R. McMaster discussing how militaries learn to adapt with consulting company McKinsey in 2013.
“You can't change the world alone - you will need some help - and to truly get from your starting point to your destination takes friends, colleagues, the goodwill of strangers and a strong coxswain to guide them.”
— Adm. William McRaven to the graduates of the University of Texas at Austin in 2014.
“Too often we just look at these glistening successes. Behind them in many, many cases is failure along the way, and that doesn't get put into the Wikipedia story or the bio. Yet those failures teach you every bit as much as the successes.”
— Adm. Mike Mullen on success in a 2012 interview with the Harvard Business Review.
“All leaders will provide those in their charge sincere and concerned assistance with problems.”
Gen. Robert Neller on compassion in his message to Marines in 2015.
“We must be expert, and what I mean by that is leaders of great character, confidence, and commitment. We must be innovative.”
— Gen. Ray Odierno in a press statement about strategic leadership in the Army in 2015.
“Live the life of a leader — Leaders are never off duty.”
— Adm. Eric Olson in his list of 10 Commandments for a highly effective team.
“Committing to a particular goal publicly puts pressure on oneself. It becomes an enormous action-forcing mechanism and often helps you achieve more than you might have had you kept your goals to yourself.”
— Gen. David Petraeus on motivation in a conversation with Vanity Fair in May 2010.
“There is a tremendous role for creativity in competition. Everyone has their own set of heroes, leaders they would say epitomize leadership. … My experience with those leaders is they are constantly looking for ways to outfox their competition, they are studying hard, they are experimenting, they are going everywhere it takes to find some way to win.”
— Adm. John Richardson discussing developing leaders with Federal News Radio in 2017.
“Leadership is a gift. It’s given by those who follow. You have to be worthy of it.”
— Gen. Mark Welsh speaking at the Air Force Academy in November 2011.
Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.
And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
Former President George W. Bush is calling for an end to the partial government shutdown, which is about to hit the one-month mark and is currently the longest shutdown in US history.
In an appeal made on Instagram, the 43rd president called on "leaders on both sides to put politics aside, come together, and end this shutdown." The caption was posted with an image of him and former First Lady Laura Bush giving pizza to their Secret Service detail.
A special operations Marine is due in court on March 7 after being arrested last year for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, Task & Purpose has learned.
Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested and charged with assault inflicting serious injury on July 29, 2018, according to Jennifer Dandron, a spokeswoman for police in Wilmington, North Carolina. Evans is currently assigned as a Critical Skills Operator with the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, according to the Marine Corps Personnel Locator.
Following Trump's inauguration, some supporters of ground combat integration assumed he would quickly move to reinstate a ban on women in jobs like the infantry. When this did not happen, advocates breathed a collective sigh of relief, and hundreds of qualified women charted a course in history by entering the newly opened occupational fields.
So earlier this week when the Wall Street Journal published an editorial against women in ground combat by conservative political commentator Heather Mac Donald, the inclination of many ground combat integration supporters was to dismiss it outright. But given Trump's proclivity to make knee jerk policy decisions in response to falling approval ratings and the court's tradition of deference to the military when it comes to policies affecting good order and discipline, it would be unwise to assume the 2016 lifting of the ban on women in ground combat is a done deal.