Updated: Jul 27
It's been three months (almost to the day) since my last post about Solar Freaking Roadways, and in that three months, things have been going on in the background that are moving me forward in ways I hadn't figured three months ago. First, I'm working on getting certified as a Quality Inspector. Following that, I have plans to get certified as a Quality Engineer. My wife is researching how to model a podcast to make it successful as I work toward isolating what it is that I want to focus on. I'm renovating a room in the basement to become an "office" and podcast studio where I can move Battle Specter into the next phase of it's existence, and after three years I have FINALLY figured out where I want to take it.
Working in the civilian world, I have noticed many differences between the cultures of the military and those that the military protects. In many instances, those differences have been frustrating. In the Marines, we'd reference the attitude that seems to permeate much of the civilian working world as "Semper Fi- F*&$% the other guy." It's a decidedly "me first" attitude. This doesn't mean that everyone is affected by it and that civilians are cold hearted nihilists, just that the number of people who aren't apparently selfish is small enough to be the exception that proves the rule. This could be the places I have worked, and if I'm being honest, there are times that I operate in this manner as well, but I believe that this attitude is a symptom rather than the real problem.
While going to school for Machining, one of the instructors brought up "Informal Leadership," and told about how it can ruin an organization. I agree with his assessment, but there is a big problem he overlooked- I'm thinking it's because at the time he was frustrated with us, and rightly pointing out the informal leadership that was going on within the class. The problem with informal leaders isn't that they exist- they always will in some capacity. The problem with informal leadership is that it is almost always precipitated by a collapse of formal leadership. To be direct, when formal leadership fails, informal leaders rise.
Both "Informal Leadership" and "Semper I- F*(&#$ the other guy" stem from the same root cause, failed leadership. This was something that I noticed in the Marines, but to a far lesser degree. It was the rarity of informal leaders that proved the rule of formal leadership to me before I had a solid concept of "informal leaders" in the first place. It could be that the decentralized nature of leadership within the Marines, typified by the idea that "Every Marine is a leader," permeates the culture. In Boot Camp, we were told that if there are two Marines walking together- one is in charge. This is not so in the civilian sector. In fact, it's not uncommon to see people who believe that their boss isn't in control of them. This is true. But as Ben Shapiro is apt to point out, two things can be true at the same time. Your boss doesn't own you, but he's still your boss, and you still need to follow his direction. Just like Sergeant Uher never owned any Marines, but those Marine under his charge still needed to follow his direction.
The major difference between the civilian sector and the Military is that within the military, leadership and followship are codified into the structure. In the civilian world, they are not. In fact, followship and leadership are continually assessed within the military, and in the civilian sector- well, I've never been counseled on my leadership or followship. Hell, I've never seen "followship" written anywhere other than a Pro/Con Assessment (what Corporals and below are given to assess their performance, optimally on a monthly basis) or a Fitness Report (what Sergeants and above get in place of a Pro/Con Assessment). Civilians don't get formal leadership training unless they pay for it in most instances, and I feel that this is a disservice to everyone who doesn't get it. We don't make America great by not teaching people how to be leaders and followers (or how to get the hell out of the way if they want to be neither), we do so by giving people the tools necessary to be both a leader and a follower.
I intend to do just that. I am going to build leaders, and the tools they need to be better leaders. Within my organization, "Leaders eat last" and "cover your buddy" won't be just simple catch phrases- they will be a way of life. It will be those ideas that will drive Battle Specter into the next phase of it's existence and from which we will derive our mission and goals. I wish to see a world filled with leaders and followers all working toward the common goal of making a better world. I know right now that's a pipe dream mixed with wishful thinking and unicorn poop, and that to some it may seem contrary to the ideas that made America the greatest nation on the face of the planet, but they aren't, and I hope in the next year to show you why that's the case, and why leadership is the root cause of the vast majority of issues in this nation and the world at large.
So join me in this quest, and dive into the world of leadership and followship with me. I don't promise it will be easy. But I can promise it will be worth it.