Addicted to Action

After I passed the guidon off to my replacement and moved to California for grad school, I was sad to leave the organization I led for 15 months and the relationships that I forged, but I was relieved to be done. My responsibilities were abdicated, the rat race was complete, and I was off to a new adventure in the Golden State. I now have more time with my family, an amazingly flexible schedule, and the rare chance to expand my educational horizons.

Then it hit me. I miss the action.

I miss the time spent taking care of business, planning training, executing tasks, working with fellow soldiers, and basically staying busy all of the time. I had an Outlook calendar full of events and just had to look at my unit training calendar or the battalion’s long range calendar to know what to expect for the rest of the quarter and those in the future.

And the calendars were full, but never mind that. There were plenty of unscheduled tasks to keep me (and everyone else) gainfully employed because of what many call “fires.”

For the uninitiated, a fire is a problem that, as you can guess, needs to be “put out.” They are usually challenges that crop up outside of the normal battle rhythm or planned events that must be resolved before flaring up, spreading, and drawing the ire of higher-ups.

“If nothing’s on fire, here’s a lighter.”

The problem is that an organization can extinguish fires as they crop up, or they can jump from fire to fire with an unhealthy intent, creating fires where they need not be.  In my short career, there have been frequent periods when just about every day there was a fire to put out.  I found myself joking with peers that, “if nothing’s on fire, here’s a lighter!”- a reflection of the attitude that the organization seemingly always had to have a crisis to handle or we weren’t working hard enough.

What existed was an addiction to action.

I don’t miss that.

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Batman v Leadership, Part 2: The Bad

In Batman v Leadership, Part 1, I discussed five leadership traits of The Batman that represent some of his good, positive leader qualities. But anyone familiar with the Dark Knight’s M.O. knows his techniques, actions, and demeanor are often at odds with what we’d want our kids to take away as healthy behaviors.

Continuing and concluding my two-part look at some of Batman’s leadership characteristics, I now bring you some of the Caped Crusader’s less desirable qualities from which we might be able to learn and avoid ourselves.

Continue reading Batman v Leadership, Part 2: The Bad

Batman v Leadership, Part 1: The Good

Full disclosure up front: I’m a Batman fanboy nerd. He is my all-time favorite comic book hero – a masked vigilante who fights crime, injustice, and evil with his wit, training, preparation, and bottomless bank account. He doesn’t have super powers, and yet he’s a card-carrying founding member of the Justice League and a proven fighter capable of going toe-to-toe with the Man of Steel himself.

But like any man, the Caped Crusader is not without his flaws. Starting with this post and finishing with the planned second part, I will discuss a handful of the Dark Knight’s leadership traits, first good, then bad. What lessons can leaders glean from the World’s Greatest Detective? How many more nicknames for Batman can I use?! Keep reading to find out!

Note: I won’t post any spoilers for the movie. In fact, I’m going to stick mainly to the comics.

Continue reading Batman v Leadership, Part 1: The Good

In Between: The One with a Military Discount!

Sometimes I don’t have anything particularly funny or snarky to write, and sometimes I’m in between more serious pieces. In those periods, I still have things I want to write about, they just fit somewhere in between.  This is the fifth post in a category I call “In Between.”

My family and I recently got back from an awesome trip to Disneyland. Seriously, it was probably the best vacation I’ve ever been on, and my girls had a blast.

Snow White
These are the looks of pure joy from meeting Snow White in real life.

We stayed on site at the Disneyland Hotel (with a military discount), and we bought 3-day park hopper tickets (with an amazing military discount). Honestly, I’m not sure we would have even planned the trip were it not for the deals afforded to me because of my military service.

The whole experience got me thinking about the concept of retailers offering military discounts and the associated customer interactions. While I don’t feel like there’s any shame in taking advantage of discounts on large scale, multi-thousand dollar expenditures, there’s a whole spectrum of scenarios that could happen on smaller levels across store countertops.

Military Discount

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Behind the Scenes Burnout

I originally wrote this post as a response to a January 19, 2016 CCL KOW post published here and titled “When Enough Becomes Too Much.” Check it out for context. Usually those posts are designed to spark Twitter conversations, but I felt like I had enough input to write a small piece about it.

Note: I wrote this before Leonardo DiCaprio finally won an Oscar, but I refuse to change it. It’s still funny.

I know this is meant for a Twitter discussion, but I had more than 140 characters worth of thoughts, albeit somewhat narrow in scope:

I’ve been on both ends of burnout. Serving on staff and as commander of a battalion headquarters company, I know what it’s like to feel burned out and witness it in my soldiers.

While I’m sure there are many who can talk about burnout broadly and personally, I’ll look at the narrow perspective of one of the biggest causes of burnout in Army support personnel and what can be done.

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23 Hilariously Fake Military Clickbait Headlines – #9 Will Have You Seeking Legal Counsel!

Clickbait, according to Urban Dictionary, is an “eyecatching link on a website which encourages people to read on.” It’s not an uncommon tactic to use a strange claim or an attention-grabbing phrase to direct traffic to some content online, and I’ve even seen it directed to military blogging posts.

So just for fun, I decided to use my Twitter feed to float some completely fake, unclickable clickbait headlines for made-up military blog posts. I took the click out of clickbait, but maybe you’ll still get a laugh out of some of these:

Continue reading 23 Hilariously Fake Military Clickbait Headlines – #9 Will Have You Seeking Legal Counsel!

The Civil-Military Gap: Macro and Micro Divides

kennedy_mugEarlier this week, David M. Kennedy, the Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History Emeritus at Stanford University, visited Berkeley as this year’s guest lecturer in the Nimitz Memorial Lectureship series.  Among other distinctions, Kennedy won the Pulitzer Prize for his 1999 book Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War. You can read more about him here.

During his visit, Professor Kennedy was gracious enough to swing by the Goldman School of Public Policy and chat with a small group of us about the issue of a growing civil-military divide in the United States. The problem, as he sees it, presents three questions of concern (which I paraphrase—probably poorly—from handwritten notes):

  1. Does the force structure of today’s military affect national security decision-making in a negative way? (Speaking primarily here of the All-Volunteer Force (AVF) structure and technology and how they widen the gap in a way that makes commitment of military forces easier than it perhaps should be.)
  2. Is the military, which draws personnel heavily from the low-income demographic, filling its ranks in fair and equitable ways? Or, perhaps a better way of phrasing it: is there equity in the recruitment of service members?
  3. Is the US military fiscally and demographically sustainable in the long run? (Professor Kennedy was especially keen on emphasizing the rapidly shrinking proportion of American 18-24 year olds who are even physically fit or competent enough to qualify for military service.)

Continue reading The Civil-Military Gap: Macro and Micro Divides