“I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.”
Things are going well here I hope they are with you too. I am looking forward to the weekend and hope to meet with some of my favorite folks.
Today rather than offering something of my own I want to send you a copy of a list which was part of an article on leadership written by Colonel James E. Moschgat, then Commander of the 12th Operations Group, 12th Flying Training Wing, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. My friend Shirley sent it to me a couple of years ago and I think it has great merit. We all would be better off if we followed the Colonel’s advice. Here is his list that is the result of his reflection on learning that Bill Crawford the squadron janitor when he was a cadet had been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor during World War II.
“It’s not life that’s important, but those you meet along the way that make the difference.”
1. Be Cautious of Labels. Labels you place on people may define your relationship to them and bound their potential. Sadly, and for a long time, we labeled Bill as just a janitor, but he was so much more. Therefore, be cautious of a leader who callously says, “Hey, he’s just an Airman.” Likewise, don’t tolerate the O-1, who says, “I can’t do that, I’m just a lieutenant.”
2. Everyone Deserves Respect. Because we hung the “janitor” label on Mr. Crawford, we often wrongly treated him with less respect than others around us. He deserved much more, and not just because he was a Medal of Honor winner. Bill deserved respect because he was a janitor, walked among us, and was a part of our team.
3. Courtesy Makes a Difference. Be courteous to all around you, regardless of rank or position. Military customs, as well as common courtesies, help bond a team. When our daily words to Mr. Crawford turned from perfunctory “hellos” to heartfelt greetings, his demeanor and personality outwardly changed. It made a difference for all of us.
4. Take Time to Know Your People. Life in the military is hectic, but that’s no excuse for not knowing the people you work for and with. For years a hero walked among us at the Academy and we never knew it. Who are the heroes that walk in your midst?
5. Anyone Can Be a Hero. Mr. Crawford certainly didn’t fit anyone’s standard definition of a hero. Moreover, he was just a private on the day he won his Medal. Don’t sell your people short, for any one of them may be the hero who rises to the occasion when duty calls. On the other hand, it’s easy to turn to your proven performers when the chips are down, but don’t ignore the rest of the team. Today’s rookie could and should be tomorrow’s superstar.
6. Leaders Should Be Humble. Most modern day heroes and some leaders are anything but humble, especially if you calibrate your “hero meter” on today’s athletic fields. End zone celebrations and self-aggrandizement are what we’ve come to expect from sports greats. Not Mr. Crawford-he was too busy working to celebrate his past heroics. Leaders would be well-served to do the same.
7. Life Won’t Always Hand You What You Think You Deserve. We in the military work hard and, dang it, we deserve recognition, right? However, sometimes you just have to persevere, even when accolades don’t come your way. Perhaps you weren’t nominated for junior officer or airman of the quarter as you thought you should – don’t let that stop you.
8. Don’t pursue glory; pursue excellence. Private Bill Crawford didn’t pursue glory; he did his duty and then swept floors for a living. No job is beneath a Leader. If Bill Crawford, a Medal of Honor winner, could clean latrines and smile, is there a job beneath your dignity? Think about it.
9. Pursue Excellence. No matter what task life hands you, do it well. Dr. Martin Luther King said, “If life makes you a street sweeper, be the best street sweeper you can be.” Mr. Crawford modeled that philosophy and helped make our dormitory area a home.
10. Life is a Leadership Laboratory. All too often we look to some school or PME class to teach us about leadership when, in fact, life is a leadership laboratory. Those you meet everyday will teach you enduring lessons if you just take time to stop, look and listen. I spent four years at the Air Force Academy, took dozens of classes, read hundreds of books, and met thousands of great people. I gleaned leadership skills from all of them, but one of the people I remember most is Mr. Bill Crawford and the lessons he unknowingly taught. Don’t miss your opportunity to learn.
“How would your life be different if…You stopped making negative judgmental assumptions about people you encounter? Let today be the day…You look for the good in everyone you meet and respect their journey.”
Moe and Lenny are strolling home from Shul one Saturday morning. Suddenly a cab speeds past, and their friend, Irving, is running frantically behind it, flailing his arms wildly. “Well,” said Lenny. “I never imagined our good friend Irving was a Sabbath violator! Look at him running for that taxi.”
“Wait a minute,” Moe replied. “Didn’t you read that book I lent you. ‘The Other Side of the Story,’ about the command to judge other people favorably? I’ll bet we can think of hundreds of excuses for Irving’s behavior.”
“Yeah, like what?”
“Maybe he’s sick and needs to go to the hospital.”
“Come on! He was running 60 miles an hour after that cab, he’s healthier than Arnold Schwartzennegger.”
“Well, maybe his wife’s having a baby.”
“She had one last week.”
“Well, maybe he needs to visit her in the hospital.”
“Well, maybe he’s running to the hospital to get a doctor.”
“He is a doctor.”
“Well, maybe he needs supplies from the hospital.”
“The hospital is a three minute walk in the opposite direction.”
“Well, maybe he forgot that it’s Shabbos!”
“Of course he knows it’s Shabbos. Didn’t you see his tie? It was his paisley beige l00% silk Giovanni tie from Italy. He never wears it during the week.”
“Wow, you’re really observant! I didn’t even notice he was wearing a tie.”
“How could you not notice? Didn’t you see how it was caught on the back fender of the taxi?”
“Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves for they shall never cease to be amused.”
A professor at the Michigan State University was known for giving boring, cliche-ridden lectures.
At the beginning of one semester, an innovative class breathed new life into the course by assigning baseball plays to each hackneyed phrase.
For example, when the professor said, “On the other hand,” that counted as a base hit. “By the same token” was a strike out; “and so on” counted as a stolen base. Divided into two teams by the center aisle of the lecture hall, the students played inning after inning of silent but vigorous baseball.
On the last day of class, the impossible happened: the score was tied and bases were loaded. Then the batter hit a home run! The winning team stood and cheered wildly.
Though deeply appreciative, the professor later was quoted as wondering why only half of the students had been enthusiastic about his lectures.
When choosing between two evils, I always take the one I haven’t tried before.
Jill complained to Nina, “Rosey told me that you told her the secret I told you not to tell her.”
“Well,” replied Nina in a hurt tone, “I told her not to tell you I told her.”
“Oh dear!” sighed Jill. “Well, don’t tell her I told you that she told me.”
“Treat everyone you meet as though they are the most important person you’ll meet today.”
Stay well, do good work, and have fun.
Management is not responsible for duplicates from previous dailies. The editor is somewhat senile.
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