Sunday, March 2, 2008

More Plebe Poop

At the United States Military Academy at West Point, we were required to commit several things to memory during freshman, or plebe, year. While they seemed like nothing more than an attempt to "haze" new cadets, much of this knowledge has stayed with me and helped shape my thoughts on leadership. Occasionally I'd like to share a few key pieces of "plebe poop" with you and see what you think. Keep in mind that not all "poop" is created equal. Some is for leader development. And some is valuable only in humoring my kids. Here is one of each:

Duty - Honor - Country (West Point Values as espoused in the Motto)

"Duty-Honor-Country. Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, and what you will be. They are your rallying points: to build courage when courage seems to fail; to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith; to create hope when hope becomes forlorn."
General of the Army Douglas MacArthur Speech Upon Receiving the Sylvanus Thayer Medal United States Military Academy May 12, 1962

How is the Cow?

She walks, she talks, she's full of chalk, the lacteal fluid extracted from the female of the bovine species is highly prolific to the nth degree.

I still don't know what the issue was with the cow! But my kids love it and I am regularly paraded in front of their friends to recite this. 27 years of still now knowing what it means!

But I understand General MacArthur's message. We need a rallying point, some place to reassemble in times of turmoil or chaos. We need a place to look, to reassure ourselves that we are doing the right thing. We need some place to go when we are lost that can inspire us to keep moving forward.

Those are our values. They are not simply words on a poster or, in this case, in a motto. They are why we do what we do. They are what we stand for, what we believe, what our customers and teammates should see in our words and actions. Our values are who we are -- when no one is watching!

For a Soldier, they are why they fight: Duty, Honor, Country! Those three words....


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am currently applying to West Point. I am 20 years old. Can you tell me some about it? Was it an overall enjoyable experience for you? Did you make many friends? Did you ever have freetime?

Please let me know