Early in my military career, I was advised to lean toward earning respect and acceptance would come.
That doesn’t mean it was easy! As a commander, I took flack for some unpopular stances that reflected my core values…one in particular stands out because it had to do with another leader. In this instance, the leader had not completed the required actions to be eligible for higher-level endorsement on a performance evaluation.
I believe someone who raises their hand to lead has to do it from the front, not bring up the rear with excuses as to why he or she is not up front. I believed if I didn’t hold THIS leader to the standard, I couldn’t in good conscience hold ANYONE to the standard.
So despite some pressure from outside my organization, I stuck to what I knew was right and fair…and earned some (grudging) respect, even from the leader whose feet I held to the fire.
Doing the right thing entailed holding this leader accountable.
The kids on Haviland Drive integrated Harlan Elementary long before busing was mandated in my small hometown of Florence AL. The concept that my behavior was a reflection of my family was stressed and understood by me from a young age…and while I don’t remember a direct conversation, I somehow knew that, to my white teachers and classmates, I represented how Negro children behaved.
Pretty heavy stuff for a third-grader…
“Don’t embarrass me in front of these white folks.” ~ Black Mother Saying
A leader with less leadership capability is going to attract lesser leaders. That’s because more capable leaders aren’t going to subject themselves to someone they don’t respect as a leader.
Leadership guru John Maxwell calls this the Law of Respect and we’re seeing the truth of this axiom as the lessor leaders of our nominally functional national government succumb to scandal after scandal.
“When people respect you as a person, they admire you. When they respect you as a friend, they love you. When they respect you as a leader, they follow you.” ~ John Maxwell
Inhale Respect, Exhale Tolerate… Inhale Respect, Exhale Back Scratch… Inhale Respect, Exhale Kowtow… Just Breathe…
US Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt Gen Jay Silveria was rightfully applauded for his forceful comments against racism after racial slurs appeared on the message boards of Black cadets enrolled at the Academy Prep School.
This Air Force vet is proud he spoke out and I look forward to his words being enforced when those who know the culprits report them to authorities and when those in authority expel those responsible.
“If you can’t treat someone from another race or with different color skin with dignity and respect, then you need to get out.” ~ Lt Gen Jay Silveria, US Air Force Academy Superintendent
It’s been sixty years since it took federal intervention for the nine Black students to be able to physically enter Central High School, officially desegregated in 1954 by the U. S. Supreme Court. Those students endured a year of verbal and physical abuse and then lost a year after the Arkansas governor closed ALL the high schools in Little Rock rather than integrate.
Sixty years later and these Black cadets, who, like the Little Rock Nine, just want access to a quality education, were still subjected to hatred. I just don’t get it…
“The power of [our] diversity comes together and makes us that much more powerful. That’s a much better idea than small thinking and horrible ideas.” ~ Lt Gen Jay Silveria, US Air Force Academy Superintendent
My curiosity about regular Germans’ attitude regarding the Holocaust led me to visit the Dachau Memorial Museum while stationed in Germany. Dachau was one of the first concentration camps opened by the Nazis and became a training center and then “model camp for the SS in the perfection of the inhuman concentration camp system, a training ground for the extermination camps of Auschwitz, Majdanek, Treblinka, etc.” 1
Over 200,000 prisoners were registered to Dachau from 1933 to 1945; approximately 32, 000 were liberated by the U.S. Seventh Army on April 29,1945.
Walking the grounds and being in the barren barracks was a somber and sobering experience.
To compare that hallowed ground to the delusional monuments celebrating the confederate leaders of a failed, treasonous effort to dismantle the United States is beyond disrespectful.
We often want behavior from others that we are unwilling to offer. We ask for respect for our beliefs about life, but judge contrary philosophies as bizarre. We expect forgiveness for our “accidental” harmful actions and words but never let others forget that they intentionally and deliberately hurt us. We demand love but aren’t loveable.
We can’t get what we don’t give…make withdrawals where we haven’t made deposits…reap what we haven’t sown…
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Mathew 7:12
A young activist, whom I’ve grown to respect, recently spent some time traveling outside of his south Chicago neighborhood. The experience opened his eyes, impacting the way he viewed his neighborhood, leaving him disillusioned…desiring more for himself, his family and those he has worked so hard to help…dreaming of a better life.
“You can’t be what you can’t see.” ~ Marian Wright Edelman