Year End (2021) – An After Action Report

Bobblehead DollBetween Christmas and New Year 2019, I accepted an offer to write more frequently for a group that, at the time, was calling itself “No More BS.”  What an amazing opportunity the challenge to write more regularly became, and how much I have come to enjoy writing.  Like all things in life, the challenge came with a cost; I had exhausted myself mentally, I was spent by October.  Physically my body could not answer the call of my mind, and my mind was screaming at me to stop.  Let’s talk about drivers and BS, for the importance to American society success is found in ending the BS.

Little Joey Biden and his Afghanistan Debacle are still unfolding, and I fully admit this turn of events from August 2021 has left me numb.  When America left Hanoi (April 1975) and Vietnam fell, many Americans, especially veterans, felt defeated in ways hard to describe.  Who knew that in such a short space of time (less than 50 years), America would repeat Hanoi (August 2021) by a couple of magnitudes?  Some very cynical veterans I know suspected the politicization of Afghanistan would lead to a repeat of history; but, I can honestly say I never expected Biden to act in such a disastrous and self-defeating manner.

Leaving Americans, allies, and stakeholders on the ground, holding the bag of responsibility, remains the quintessential yellow-spine craven move of the new century.  One of the greatest insults from my time in the US Military was the corporatization of the military officer corps.  Disconnecting responsibility and accountability, honoring weak-kneed drivel to the detriment of the professional NCOs and the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines has been utterly unacceptable.  Why; because every corporatized military in history has failed!  Now, America has Afghanistan and Vietnam, and the government leaders refuse to acknowledge they are the problem, and the sitting president rewards pubescent behavior.  Sickening!Angry Grizzly Bear

The military, to be effective, must be out of sync with the society they protect.  A sacrifice principle is required from those who love country more than themselves and voluntarily wear their country’s uniform.  Yet, the politics and political leaders refuse to allow the military to act at home and abroad, so we repeat history.  May I ask, how many more Vietnam’s and Afghanistan’s does America need to relive before accepting that personal sacrifice is quintessential to a strong military?  Mr. President, Little Joey, when does the BS end, and the motivation to lead return from bureaucratic hands to professional officers and NCOs?  For I warn you, what you have right now is a mob, and you desperately need a military!

But, Afghanistan, in all its depravity, is not the only outrage from this year where BS needs to end.  Consider something with me, the power of jury trials.  High-profile trials have been occurring and continue through this holiday season and end-of-year celebrations.  How incredibly grateful I am for the rule of Constitutional Law that provides for a jury by peers.  More often than not, juries get the law right and hand down fair verdicts.  Yet, the Corporate Media refuses to accept that jury trials are the best method for handling problems in a constitutional society.  I have seen the media meltdowns repeatedly when juries hand down verdicts the media have tried and failed to influence.

Now ask yourself, dear reader, why does the media try cases before all the facts have been presented?  Power, the answer remains ever simple, the media have become what they consider as THE single greatest power in American society.  The self-delusion is a steaming hot pile of BS dished up for public consumption 24/7/365, and the media refuses to eat the BS they are serving.  Considering themselves better than common citizens, above the law, the media companies have decided they can arbitrate, decide, and deserve to be listened to and obeyed.  Well, jury trials work, and it is time more journalists are introduced to the concept through defending themselves in a court of law.

QuestionWorse than the corporatization of the US Military has been the continual erosion of the rule of law.  The Uniform Code of Military Justice is regularly abused for the benefit of the powerful and the destruction of the weak.  When the law is cheapened, joked about, and castigated, the trust in civil society is broken, and the military is but a smaller example of what is occurring in American society as a whole.  When warriors are not judged by their deeds, but upon their political connections, the society hiring warriors, training warriors, and sending them into harm’s way will quickly find the warriors are gone.  Their replacements are not worth the honor and trust.  Leading to society being taken over and destroyed.

Feel free to disagree, but Rome remains the quintessential example in history of what happens when a republic fails to accept social consequences, infects its society from within, and then picks fights with neighbors.  Rome had the greatest military in recorded history, and it fell ingloriously all because the military, a microcosm of the society as a whole, decided politics was more important than the rule of law.  Popularity became more important than law and obedience to the rule of law.  Who taught Rome to fall; who brought the Roman Legions to their knees?  Look no further than their politically elected leaders who spent their time and the people’s money in riotous living, perversions, and trying to evade responsibility for their actions.  Tell me, are we not seeing the same exact abuses in current society that is witnessed on the pages of history with Rome falling?

What is the only difference between Rome’s fall and any other government with elected political leaders?  Advanced weaponry to include nuclear weapons.  What is the only safeguard in republican and democratic societies strong enough to save those societies from repeating Rome’s example; learning history and obeying the rule of law.  Of the two, learning history is more important, which is why learning history was the second casualty in the fight to overthrow the rule of law.  The first casualty was teaching students how to read.

The abuse of children remains an utter abomination, and rightly so.  But until the political leaders can be made to accept they are facilitating abusers of children masquerading as K-12 School Districts and teachers, the abuse of children, the wasting of precious resources, and the sacrifice of innocence will continue and worsen.  In Virginia’s gubernatorial election this past November, the central theme was public education.  Virginia, as your newly elected officials come into power, are you willing to watch those elected and demand they obey the electorate’s will and change education in your commonwealth?Lemmings 1

Over the holiday, I watched heart-wrenching videos of parents who almost lost their child to suicide because the teachers groomed the child into transgenderism, all without the parent’s knowledge.  Worse, the parents were abused by the government when the teachers involved called “Child Protection Services (CPS).”  Tell me, when bureaucrats join together for the abuse of those they are duly sworn and duty-bound to protect, who is at fault; the elected leaders!  What did the elected leaders do when the parents complained; they joined forces to continue abusing the child and the parents.  The exact opposite of what they were hired to do, scrutinize the government employees and protect the electorate from abusive government operations, practices, and people.

Unfortunately, some of you think this is only happening in California, Virginia, New York, or some distant city/county/state.  No, the truth of the matter is this is occurring in your child’s school district right now.  Your children, grandchildren, cousins, and neighbors are all being abused and harmed, and the rot is at your doors.  Don’t take my word for it; investigate for yourself.  Go to local school board meetings and ask to see the curriculum your child is being exposed to, and you will find the truth, and the truth will first abhor, then anger, and then motivate you.

I hope the motivation will be sufficient to inspire action to become more informed, pay closer attention to local political races, and stop allowing incumbents a free pass to officiate in the destruction of America.  One of the frequent conversations in my home is, “What are my plans after I complete the Ph.D. degree I am chasing?”  The temptation is real to run for political office, either mayor or school board, sheriff, or judge; I want to get into this fight to defend the America I love.  Most people think the battle for America’s soul is being fought in the US Senate or House of Representatives when the reality is the fight for America’s soul is being fought and lost in local elections, and it is time to find strong candidates who are willing to run for office and fight this fight locally.

Jesus, Minion Memes Aren't Funny : terriblefacebookmemesThe biggest lesson I have learned in writing this year, a degree doesn’t represent smarts or capability; those come by working in the trenches for something more important than self.  The US Navy taught me endurance in the face of insurmountable odds and enemy shenanigans, and the US Army taught me to think and have grit and determination.  I know I am not perfect; I am not the “picture perfect politician.”  I prefer blue jeans and button-downs to suits and ties, but I know people, and I prefer real people to the fake effrontery currently holding the reigns of political power.

Writing this past year, I have faced my demons, and while I still fight those demons, I know the need to engage is real, helping others promotes healing, and teaching provides the opportunity to learn more perfectly.  I know the power of citizens motivated to protect hearth and home, and I celebrate freedom.  I would see my neighbors armed with knowledge, possessing the motivation to speak out and act according to beliefs and win the American heritage left us.  I believe in America, and I know that when Americans are left alone, they use the power of freedom to change the world; all we need is to shrink the government, and America will begin to blossom again.LinkedIn Image

Shrinking the government begins locally.  The local government protects against county and state government abuses.  The state government protects against federal violations.  The federal government protects borders and provides for the common trade of goods across state lines.  Limiting government is not a bad idea at all; in fact, it is the only good idea that can help save America.  Join me!

© Copyright 2021 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Build People – Focus on Potential, a Leadership Task

ToolsWhile walking through Home Depot, my favorite aisles are those aisles with tools, power tools, hand tools, and so forth.  My mind always goes on imaginative wanderings, thinking about what those tools will go out into the world and do.  Will an inexperienced hand learn on those tools?  Will they build grand buildings?  Will they destroy?  What will those tools help accomplish?  The potential held in a tool is as much a mystery as looking at a babe in arms and thinking, what will that soul go forward and do?  I never become bored thinking about the potential held in a tool as part of the ongoing saga of humanity.

Without hands, a tool is useless; the tool cannot act independently.  Guns do not shoot themselves; hammers do not strike anything alone; thus, we can see that tools need someone to fulfill the measure of their creation.  For good or ill, the tool is only ever a force multiplier and requires intention through another party to act.  A critical point to understand is the person’s intention of holding the tool, who decides whether that tool will build or destroy, and the value to the owner.

Knowledge Check!But, this article is about people’s potential; why begin discussing tools?  To a leader, each person is a tool requiring training, delegation, trust, and motivation to achieve the measure of their creation.  Have you ever witnessed an unskilled manager use, or abuse, their people?  My first officer in the US Army National Guard was one of these unskilled managers.  The stories and experiences from this manager are legion, fraught with examples of what not to do and the hubris of a person placed into a position of power above their competence level.  I have long wondered, what did this officer’s boss think about this officer’s performance?

The first lesson in building people is this; everyone has someone they report to.  Do your people know who they report to, and are they comfortable talking to this person?  Consider the following:

Leadership is solving problems.  The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them.  They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care.  Either case is a failure of leadership.” – General Colin Powell

In more than nine years of Military Service, I can count on one hand the number of officers I trusted enough and were approachable sufficient to bring problems to, and I won’t even need the pinky and thumb.  In talking to friends and family about this issue, their experiences are similar.  Worse, the same problem exists with the non-commissioned officer corps.  In my professional pursuits outside military service, I have worked with precisely one boss to whom I felt comfortable bringing issues.

While I strive to be the leader I wish I could take problems to, there is a realization that to my teams, I am being measured, weighed, and if found wanting, will never know I failed to be the leader to whom I would bring problems.  Consider this for a moment.  A leader could be solving problems and thinking, “My people bring their problems to me QED: I am a good leader.”  While never realizing they are detestable and hated by their people.  All because their people only bring work-related problems, and then only rarely.  In the US Navy, I experienced this exact issue more than once, and the officers all thought they were “God’s gift to their people.” Massive egos, compensating for being vile and despicable.

Leaders, take note:

    1. What are the preferred names of the members of your teams?
    2. When was the last time you shared problems and asked for input from your followers?
    3. What are you learning daily, and who is teaching you?
    4. Do you know your followers sufficiently to advise?
    5. What quirks, talents, skills, or abilities do your people possess that you appreciate?

How you answer these questions determines more than your destiny as a leader and your team’s productivity in achieving business goals.  When I begin a new project and select tools, I review what I know about my tools.  My hammer has a loose head, but I will not change it out because it has the smoothness of age and is the best hammer for finishing work.  This wrench has scratches in the head and a chisel mark in the handle that is exactly 6” and is handy in a pinch.  Thus, when used on soft brass, the head will leave marks in the metal on which it is used.  All this and more is reviewed, strengths and weaknesses, quirks and peculiarities, all known before engaging in a new project.  When you know your tools, their potential is declared, and in communicating their potential, how and where they can be best used becomes common knowledge.

Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character.  But if you must be without one, be without strategy.” – General Schwarzkopf

Ninety-Nine present of leadership failures are failures of character.” – General Schwarzkopf

Several of the worst people I have ever worked for had the moral integrity of a used car salesperson.  They could not be trusted, except to be trusted to stab you in the back.  No honesty, never forthright, always acting for the downfall of anyone they deemed was competition, and constantly engaged in stealing glory while meting out the worst punishments.  While the experiences fulfilled another axiom from General Schwarzkopf, the education was brutal to suffer through.

You learn far more from negative leadership than from positive leadership.  Because you learn how not to do it, and, therefore, you learn how to do it.” – General Schwarzkopf

These experiences alone would qualify me to write this article; however, through a multitude of academic classes and degrees, I have gained more fundamental qualifications to justify what I am about to declare.  If you think a title makes you a leader, you are the problem in your organization’s leadership!  In working with newly minted, freshly commissioned, officers in the US Army and the US Navy, I have learned through sad experience too many consider the rank and titles their “Golden Ticket” to being abusers of people through “leadership.”  One particular example stands out more clearly from the others.

While serving in the US Navy, my first Chief Engineer was book smart and common sense inept!  This man was more dangerous with tools in his hand, even though he could verbatim quote pages from maintenance manuals.  Shortly before I arrived on the ship, the Chief Engineer had started a fire on board the vessel in multiple engine and auxiliary rooms by applying shaft brakes to an operating shaft instead of to the shaft that had been locked out and tagged out.  The Chief Engineer then compounded his errors by blaming the engineers who had properly locked out/tagged out the shaft needing maintenance.  This was a major issue that proved cream rises and trash sinks, and this leader was absolute trash!

The bitter cherry on this crap sundae, the example of the Chief Engineer, was a symptom of a greater sickness and moral desert in the Engineering Department.  Chiefs were force-multiplying the Chief Engineers example, and the senior non-commissioned officers were force-multiplying the chiefs example.  Who suffered, the lowest enlisted, and the rest of the ship.  Maintenace was rarely done properly, watchstanding was hit or miss, and the example plagued the Engineering Department for years after the Chief Engineer was summarily dismissed.

The only redeeming factor from this experience, I learned the lessons of what negative leadership does well.  Leaders take note:

    1. If character problems lead to poor performance or behaviors detestable in your teams, look no further than the reflection in the mirror for both an answer and a root cause.
    2. Your followers will observe what you do more than what you say. How are you acting?
    3. Stop looking up, you are a leader, and your first vision should be to look sideways and make sure your people are on the same level before you look up.
    4. Before embracing new strategies, first review character!

The following is critical to building people and promoting potential:

To be an effective leader, you have to have a manipulative streak – you have to figure out the people working for you and give each tasks that will take advantage of their strengths.” – General Schwarzkopf

Leadership is a balancing act between helping people take advantage of their strengths and training them to overcome individual weaknesses.  Yet, leaders often act like managers, never training, and always micro-managing to shave strengths preventing competition with the leader.  Which are the actions of neither a leader nor a manager, but a tyrant!  Petty authoritarians acting the role of tyrants produce more harm than war, poverty, and disease combined.

What actions are needed?  We conclude with the following:

TRUE courage is being afraid, and going ahead and doing your job.” – General Schwarzkopf

The job of a leader begins with being a good follower; even if to be a good follower, you must be the loyal opposition standing like a rock doing the right thing in the face of adversity.  Moral integrity is critical to being a good leader and is foundational to building people.  Leaders take special note and act accordingly:

    1. What is your moral code?
    2. Why do you embrace those morals?
    3. Do you understand integrity is doing what is right, especially when you think nobody is watching? Do you have moral integrity?
    4. Do you know your identity, and are you comfortable with your identity?
    5. What character do you possess, and is that character tied to your morality and integrity?Exclamation Mark

When you are placed to influence people, build potential by first knowing, and then doing that which is the harder right, than the easier wrong.

© Copyright 2021 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.