”God will not look you over for medals, degrees or diplomas, but for scars.”
The quote above come from a good given to me by an underrated, yet deceptively brilliant colleague with whom I spent the past year fighting against self-serving nepotistic hypocrites who rose to leadership ranks on the backs of others. He believed in the simple, realistic advice given in this book and he has the scars to prove it—as a United States Marine and as a federal civil servant. Over the course of the past year, he put his own reputation and the futur of his career at significant rock in order to protect others who needed his help and maintain integrity as a core individual and organizational value. In the end he won and the right thing decisions were made. He paid a price, but he did it willingly and he is stronger now.
In thinking about Veteran’s Day, I wondered if there is one inherent character trait that causes men and women to willingly risk life and limb for others…often others they don’t know. When I think of my own reasons for joining the military, I have to admit it wasn’t about service. Yet over time and through shared experiences, like my coauthors, I came to understand what it meant to serve others (Service) willingly. I don’t think this character trait is learned. As written above, it is inherent, but for some of us it needs to be drawn out.
Different circumstances provide different methods for drawing service out of us. Often, it’s a common, seemingly intransigent enemy or threat to mankind. Sometimes, it’s a fleeting moment—pulling someone from a dangerous situation, helping a stranger, giving up your free time for your kids, spouse or friend, etc. A sense of service abides in all of us. Service requires us to do work, put our own needs aside and often get hurt, or worse, in the process. I’ve written before that I believe humility is the greatest strength of any leader. Service requires humility. Our culture preaches the opposite, yet men and women continue to serve. That has to be the result of human nature which will always win against darker forces… just like it did for my colleague.
The book is called A Mesage to Garcia. Find it and read it. And thank you for your service.