Ed Hinman is Director of Security Strategies and Communication at Gavin de Becker & Associates, an international security firm that protects many of the world’s most influential people and enterprises. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, Ed served eight years as an infantry officer in the United States Marine Corps and has protected at-risk public figures around the world. He lives in Los Angeles.
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jason Jimenez
As a 15-year-old military brat, I began lifting weights at the standard-issue base gym. Typified by their Cold War concrete, chipped gray paint, and noise-rattling drinking fountains, these high-ceilinged warehouses of iron offered an arena to achieve life-changing goals through punishing effort.
In 2012, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tom Ricks, wrote an article called “General Failure,” followed by a book on the same subject, criticizing America’s recent military and political leadership for tolerating incompetent wartime commanders like generals Tommy Franks and Ricardo Sanchez. After two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, each longer in duration than World War II, Ricks wrote that exactly zero of the U.S. Army’s hundreds of generals deployed to the field were relieved for combat ineffectiveness. On Sanchez’s underperformance in Iraq from 2003 to 2004, Ricks shared the conclusion of history scholar and retired Army colonel Andrew Bacevich: “Had Sanchez been a head coach or a CEO, he would likely have been cashiered.”
When it comes to finding the right career, harmony matters. During my early years in the Marine Corps, my square peg fit well enough into its square hole. As the edges of my personality and values changed over time, however, I no longer fit the Marine Corps’ square hole. Inevitably, we grew apart and the old cultural harmony between me and the Corps veered off track and ended with frustration.
The polar vortex pummeling the East the last several weeks got me thinking about the misery of living and sleeping in frigid temperatures. When I recently heard a friend say, “I’d much rather be cold than hot,” I smiled and replied, “Then you’ve never really been cold.”