Monday, August 27, 2012

Amundsen’s Philosophy, Leadership, and the Power of Team

Last week I went on a trip to FT. Drum, Ny with my boss, Colonel Tony Burgess, the director of the Center for the Advancement of Leader Development and Organizational Learning (CALDOL) at West Point, Ny. We were going to facilitate a Leader Challenge for one of the units getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan.  On the way we had a great talk about leadership and he shared something he used in a talk at FT. Benning, Ga. from the book "The Last Place on Earth" which is about the great race to the South Pole between Britain's Robert Scott and Norway's Roald Amundsen. The quote was Amundsen’s philosophy on how to prepare for major undertakings like his journey to the South Pole was "You don’t wait until you’re in an unexpected storm to discover that you need more strength and endurance............. You prepare with intensity, years ahead, so that when conditions turn against you, you can draw from a deep reservoir of strength. And equally, you are prepared to strike hard in favorable conditions!"

We continued talking about it and moved on to other topics. The next day I found myself thinking about Amundsen’s philosophy and my development as a leader in the Army.
In my own developmental I have been blessed with leaders that have pushed me physically and mentally which helped me build a deep reservoir of strength from which I have had to draw from.

From my experience leadership is about energy and passion. A leaders job is to empower others and unleash the energy in subordinates, peers, and superiors.  When conditions are rough leaders have to call on their own energy, and sometimes this takes digging deep and calling on that reserve of strength and endurance to have the energy to lead and influence others. That is what I have learned over my time in leadership by the example of others who have led.  I have had to call on my inner reserve several times in combat and since recovering from my injuries from Iraq.

Lou Nemec is a passionate and energetic leader. Last week at the West Point triathlon Lou was in BEASTMODE, running with Old Glory for the run portion of the triathlon. After Lou finished he went back out on the course 8 more times to run in with other RWB triathletes. 

That is the type of action that inspires, unleashes energy in others, and gets people to dig deep and tap that inner reserve of strength and endurance. Coming from the flat terrain of Louisiana the race was challenging to me due to the hills on the course and I was digging deep toward the end of the run. Lou met me about a half mile out carrying Old Glory and we ran in together with another RWB triathlete.  That is what team is all about!

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