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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.
Exclusive: Video shows Navy SEAL flying drone over body of ISIS fighter shortly after Eddie Gallagher allegedly stabbed him
Shortly after Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher allegedly murdered a wounded ISIS prisoner, about half a dozen of his SEAL teammates watched as one SEAL flew a drone around their compound and hovered it just inches over the dead man's body.
It was yet another ethical lapse for the men of SEAL Team 7 Alpha Platoon, many of whom had just taken a group photograph with the deceased victim after their commander had held an impromptu reenlistment ceremony for Gallagher near the body. Although some expressed remorse in courtroom testimony over their participation in the photo, video footage from later that morning showed a number of SEALs acted with little regard for the remains of Gallagher's alleged victim.
The video — which was shown to the jury and courtroom spectators last week in the trial of Gallagher — was recently obtained by Task & Purpose.
'It just happened' — the Iraq War’s first living Medal of Honor recipient recalls his harrowing fight against 5 insurgents
On Nov, 10, 2004, Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia knew that he stood a good chance of dying as he tried to save his squad.
Bellavia survived the intense enemy fire and went on to single-handedly kill five insurgents as he cleared a three-story house in Fallujah during the iconic battle for the city. For his bravery that day, President Trump will present Bellavia with the Medal of Honor on Tuesday, making him the first living Iraq war veteran to receive the award.
In an interview with Task & Purpose, Bellavia recalled that the house where he fought insurgents was dark and filled with putrid water that flowed from broken pipes. The battle itself was an assault on his senses: The stench from the water, the darkness inside the home, and the sounds of footsteps that seemed to envelope him.
In his sanctions announcement, Trump accidentally named the wrong supreme leader of Iran, who has been dead since 1989
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico has deployed almost 15,000 soldiers and National Guard in the north of the country to stem the flow of illegal immigration across the border into the United States, the head of the Mexican Army said on Monday.
Mexico has not traditionally used security forces to stop undocumented foreign citizens leaving the country for the United States, and photographs of militarized police catching Central American and Cuban women at the border in recent days have met with criticism.
Mexico is trying to curb a surge of migrants from third countries crossing its territory in order to reach the United States, under the threat of tariffs on its exports by U.S. President Donald Trump, who has made tightening border security a priority.
Packages containing suspected heroin were found in the home of the driver charged with killing seven motorcyclists Friday in the North Country, authorities said Monday.
Massachusetts State Police said the packages were discovered when its Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section and New Hampshire State police arrested Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, at his West Springfield home. The packages will be tested for heroin, they said.
Zhukovskyy faces seven counts of negligent homicide in connection with the North Country crash on Friday evening that killed seven riders associated with Jarhead Motorcycle Club, a club for Marines and select Navy corpsmen.