A cause worth fighting for

I listened to an episode of the Tim Ferriss podcast today featuring General Stan McChrystal and Chris Fussell, a Navy Seal and mcChrystal’s former aide de camp.

McChrystal served for 34 years in the army. I got the impression over the course of the 100 minute interview that McChrystal could probably tell you down to the hour how long he served in the military. He routinely answered Tim’s questions with incredible detail as one might expect coming from a 4 star General. There were so many things that stood out to me about this interview. It’s been a few hours since I digested the information, so let me recap some of the highlights before ending on my biggest takeaway.

1. For all of his accomplishments, attention to detail, and disciplined schedule, McChrystal appeared very human. He talked about football, music, and youthful carelessness he experienced as a freshman and sophomore in college. In fact, the General said he earned 178 “slugs” or demerits during his first four semesters, and he made poor grades. Surprisingly, he said few of the honor roll members turned out to be exceptional military leaders which leads me to my next point.

2. West Point made the cadets conduct peer reviews annually. Initially, he thought it would turn into a popularity contest, but a more honorable assessment emerged. He found the reviews to be vital for instilling strong culture in every cadet.

3. The military- which is far from perfect- has at least one trait going for it: culture. The organization is transparent. You know everyone’s rank, pay, and accommodations. Everyone wears the same clothes and eats the same meals. They have clear directions on what to do. I can’t remember the source, but I do remember one of the participants saying that many retired soldiers wish they could return to active service because of the strong camraderie present among battalions.

4. McChrystal is an incredible student of the history of battle. He referenced U.s. grant and his place in history at two different points during the podcast. I don’t hear his name brought up in my everyday interactions, but that was interesting.

5. The love. I touched on this in the third point, but the sense of love for fellow soldiers became apparent while listening to McChrystal speak. They love something (I’m sure it depends on the individual) enough to travel across the globe in a hostile environment with high temperatures up to 120 degrees and continually face the prospect of dying in combat for some purpose. That is so beautiful to me, and it inspired me to identify some cause so powerful that I would fight for.

What is something I would fight for?

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