27 October 2014

Leadership Defined: Intestinal Fortitude


Following my last post regarding leadership as an ever-evolving process, I feel the second most important attribute to being an effective leader is definitely doing a gut check, picking up the pieces, and moving forward no matter the cost. I could spend the entire blog explaining the trials and turbulence that I have been through in the past five months, but in the interest of not boring you, just know that what I have been through is not easily walked away from.

We always heard the Drill Sergeants, Tis, Drill Instructors, and what have you, “Pick your sack up, move forward, get some intestinal fortitude and drive on!” Mike Rowe did it for entertainment. We do it because someone’s life is on the line, an objective needs seizing, or the simple fact being that if WE do not accomplish this task, it does not get done. How many times, and be honest here, have you just wanted to throw in the towel and come up with a laundry list of explosives as to why something can’t get done? Or an activity so minute, but suddenly “way more important” than that lousy task, comes up? 

I’m throwing my jabs at the Spec 4 mafia, and making that sham shield shine. We were experts at it, and I am not going to deny that there have been times where I have been guilty of this stinking way of thinking.  Attitude is everything, yet without perspective, is that attitude worth it? The simple fact of the matter is someone in your sphere of influence, whether above or below you, is counting on you to get the job done right the first time without screw ups (though they will happen). 

NCOERs are a perfect example of this: it indirectly does not affect YOUR performance or evaluations, but it sure might screw that fellow E-5 out of a promotion when he could need it.  I am a firm believer of paying it forward. You take care of this guy when his medical bills are stacking up, he’s three months behind on a mortgage, and his car just blew a transmission. I can promise you, it will not be forgotten, and he will go miles for you when you are in a similar situation.


Bottom line: intestinal fortitude has nothing to do with you. We all know the body is capable of surpassing limits well beyond our comprehension. It might get your ass out of the firefight, but what about Joe, who just had his leg sliced at the knee? Are you going to be able to perform? Again, intestinal fortitude isn’t all about you, but more about how you’ll show it when it counts for others: when lives and duty depend on it, when a family needs someone home, a father needs to see his son, or a wife needs her family.


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*These opinions belong to the writer and in no way reflect the views of the DoD or other departments of the US government.

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