Life Lessons Part 1 - Loyalty

By Mojo Rider

I received an email from someone that included a transcript from a speech given by Lt. Colonel Guy Lofaro who has taught at West Point. I liked it a lot and thought I should share it for those in management positions or for those who might benefit from it in an overall life lesson. The text of this speech is taken from an address he gave to a dining-in at the U.S. Military Academy. There are some interesting lessons learned from a life spent in a military career that I think can be applied by everyone. The qualities that the military can cultivate in their forces can also be a guide for everyone in determining what really matters in life, what one should aspire to be in terms of leadership and doing the right things in your own workplace.

Here is part one of his speech:


What can I say that will stay with you? And as I reflected on this I turned it on myself - what stays with me? What makes a mark on me? What do I remember, and why? How have I learned the higher lessons I so desperately want to impart to you? Well - I've learned those higher lessons through experience. And as I thought further, I realized that there's only one way to relate experience - that is to tell some stories.

Imagine you are a brand new second lieutenant on a peacekeeping mission in the Sinai Peninsula. You are less than a year out of West Point, and only a few weeks out of the basic course. You are standing at a strict position of attention in front of your battalion commander, a man you will come to realize was one of the finest soldiers with whom you've ever served, and you are being questioned about a mistake -a big mistake - that you've made.

You see, your platoon lost some live ammo. Oh sure, it was eventually found, but for a few hours you had the entire battalion scrambling. Your battalion commander is not yelling at you though, he's not demeaning you; he's simply taking this opportunity to ensure you learn from the experience. And you do - you learn that people make mistakes, that those mistakes do not usually result in the end of the world, and that such occasions are valuable opportunities to impart some higher lessons.

Then, out of the corner of your eye, you see your platoon sergeant emerge from behind a building. He's an old soldier - a fine soldier though - whose knees have seen a few too many airborne operations. He sees you and the colonel - and he takes off at a run. You see him approaching from behind the colonel and the next thing you see is the back of your platoon sergeant's head. He is now standing between you and your battalion commander - the two are eyeball to eyeball.

Your platoon sergeant says, with a touch of indignance in his voice, "Leave my lieutenant alone, sir. He didn't lose the ammo, I did. I was the one who miscounted. You want someone's ass, you take mine." And you learn another lesson - you learn about loyalty.

The best supervisors I’ve ever worked for, and they are far and few between, have always protected the staff from crap. How can you not respect a supervisor that goes to bat for you and your fellow co-workers? And it flows both ways too. The rank and file can stand up for their supervisor as well. The worst supervisors are the ones who are too afraid to stand up for their staff. Far too often you have people in management that are only worried about how they look to the front office. I’ve found that smart supervisors recognize that it’s the staff that makes them look good. You are only as good as the people working for you.

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