The Citadel

The Military College of South Carolina

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Points to Ponder


A Quick Point to Ponder
(posted 5/1/2014):

Class of 2014—today, we reached 9 days and a wake up until graduation. We’re at single digits!

The countdown ought to be full of celebration and camaraderie with classmates. The countdown is also a good time to make a commitment to “give back” to The Citadel. Make that commitment now.

Think about these examples of giving back, examples we have personally experienced:


  • Jim Whetstone, Class of 1960, ran the year-long Corps Leaders Mentor Program as a volunteer;
  • Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, Class of 1964, spoke to Corps leaders, as he does every year;
  • Gen Rosa, Class of 1973, led The Citadel during our cadet careers;
  • Col Leo Mercado, Class of 1979, was our Commandant from matriculation to graduation;
  • Boeing VP, Jim Wigfall , Class of 1982, talked to cadet commanders and athletic leaders in February;
  • SCANA VP, Keller Kissam, Class of 1988, spoke to the Corps as a Greater Issues speaker;
  • Chad Priest, Class of 2003, during last year’s mentor dinner, charged the Rising & Graduating Top 9 and team captains to "always align ourselves with principled leaders in life and in business."


There are big and small ways to give back. Most of all, we ought to commit our moral support. Make the commitment now to stand with The Citadel and its leaders. The Citadel did right by us; we would do right to stand by The Citadel and its leaders always.

NOTE: In the remaining nine days, there is still time to say “thank you” to those who gave back for our benefit.

A Quick Point to Ponder (posted 4/25/2014):
For our graduates and rising leaders alike, things will be different after graduation day, May 10th. That’s 15 days and wake up from today.

For seniors, what’s the plan to start off new careers in the right way? For rising leaders, what’s the plan to succeed in new leadership responsibilities next year?

Successful people plan, and plan well. They plan to prepare for day one on the job, be it as a financial advisor, highway patrolman, cadre, or cadet company commander; they plan (and practice) that first commute or first parade in front; they plan what they will wear and how they will introduce themselves to make the right first impression. They plan for hiccups, too, knowing they always occur. How do we ensure we’re not late if traffic is bad? What is the plan if the computer fails for a major presentation? What if no one read the OPORD for today’s training? Successful people plan because they know planning makes success more likely, even when things don’t go right.

Successful leaders plan because they want success for their organization and their people. They know people depend on them to lead them to success—when things go well and definitely when things go bad. Through effective planning, coupled with years of experience, the best leaders handle deviations from the plan with grace and confidence.

Be a leader—plan; plan for contingencies; execute with conviction. After all, successful leaders not only plan but they do everything they do with gusto.


A Quick Point to Ponder (posted 4/18/2014):

In 22 days (and a wake up), we close out cadet careers (for some) and another semester (for all).

As such, it’s a good time to ponder – on a very personal level – how much faith we have in The Citadel Way.

When we think of The Citadel Way, we might think of Honor, Duty, Respect and principled leadership. That definition gets at character.

We might also see The Citadel Way as a system that instills in us self-discipline, team skills (as follower & leader), and sense of accountability for others. This description adds the all-important elements of personal example and the ability to develop others and to care for their well-being.

The Citadel Way. If we have absolute faith that all The Citadel asks of us and expects of us is good and right, and we commit to meet those expectations, we’ll be grateful to our alma mater long after we’ve graduated. We’ll be successful, and more importantly, we’ll be men and women others can’t help but follow.

Keep the faith and finish well.

A Quick Point to Ponder (posted 4/11/2014):

Finish the J.O.B. Successful people are finishers.

For the officers of ’14 and the NCOs of ’15, we have exactly 29 days and a wakeup left in our current leadership positions. We finish the J.O.B. if we:


  • Embrace and live The Citadel standards;
  • Work hard to ease the transition of our replacements;
  • Lead our organizations the way they deserve to be led all the way through graduation.


When we finish well, we leave a worthy legacy. Our people will see what “the real deal” looks and acts like. They’ll know a genuine leader cares about them, puts others first, and never dogs it – EVER.

Leaders know instinctively to finish well, to finish the J.O.B. It’s Just Our Business as leaders to show others what right looks like, to include finishing strong. 

A Quick Point to Ponder (posted 4/4/2014):

In 7 days & a wakeup, the Corps will recognize the Class of 2017.

For the class of 2017, a commitment to each other has carried us this far. That same mutual support is the key to success, for next Saturday, for the rest of The Citadel Experience, for life. Never give up & most certainly never give up on each other.

For the Upper Classes, think back (in some cases, think way back) to our Recognition Day. What do we remember? Who do we remember? We can be that cadet this year’s knobs remember. Be PRESENT. Be PROFESSIONAL. Show PRIDE in their accomplishment. It matters. It inspires. It’s remembered.

A Quick Point to Ponder (posted 3/21/2014):

Before departing on spring furlough (a well-deserved respite, by the way), we might consider putting together a short ACTION LIST to guide us when we get back to the barracks on Sunday, 30 March. Yes, we can count on our leaders to get us re-focused during muster formation, but we can help them be successful by taking the time to sketch out priorities for our first night back.

A suggested priority list might look like the one below. Have a restful, fun, and safe furlough.  Be a leader...


  • Welcome everyone back
  • Get ready for Monday classes
  • Make personal appearance a priority
    • REMINDER: we have the Accreditation Team on campus on Monday, 31 March
    • Make the best possible first impression!
  • Review Accreditation “Must Know” knowledge
    • Q.E.P. stands for “Quality Enhancement Program”
    • The Citadel QEP topic was selected by cadets, faculty, and staff
    • The Citadel QEP is “Ethical Reasoning”
    • The QEP motto is “Ethics in Action Since 1842”
    • The QEP is a ten-year commitment for the school and begins next fall
    • Key message: “we know how important it is to make ethical decisions and want to get better at it”
  • Transition rising leaders
    • If I’m a leader, help the rising leader get ready for next year – set up “shadow” plan
    • If I’m a rising leader, get with the current leader ASAP – set up “shadow” plan

A Quick Point to Ponder
(posted 3/15/2014):

Last week as leaders, we took advantage of opportunities available to us through the Krause Leadership Symposium and led other cadets to do the same.  That's what leaders do.

Another key leader action is helping their units anticipate and prepare for upcoming events, be it for an activity next week, next month, or even next year (note: while "the next day" might be a bit late, some prep is always better than none).

This week the anticipation for spring furlough has peaked, but as leaders we might think about preparing our units to succeed over the next month or so.   The following series of questions might be helpful in that regard.

-- What has the command team done to ensure our team is not "safety complacent" over the spring furlough?  What more can we do to ensure we achieve 100% "present or accounted for AND unhurt" on 30 March?

-- Does everyone on our team know that QEP stands for Quality Enhancement Program?  Do they know The Citadel QEP is about ethical decision-making?  Do they know the theme "Ethics in Action Since 1842?" 

-- How does the command team plan to refresh cadets' QEP knowledge during the post-furlough muster?  (Note:  SACS Accreditation Team arrives on campus on Monday, 31 March)

-- How does the command team plan to use April for effective command transition training?  How does the command team intend to maintain a clear chain of command while educating and training the rising leaders?

Leaders lead others to grasp opportunity.  They also lead others to anticipate, to prepare, and ultimately, to succeed.  Be a leader.

 A Quick Point to Ponder (posted 3/7/2014):

Why do leaders exist? For two straightforward reasons: to achieve results & to develop people.

Opportunity is the “great developer.” But the thing about opportunity is that many times we don’t recognize it. As the old saying goes “opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Taking advantage of opportunities requires effort...and sometimes a nudge from our leader, coach, family, or friend.

Next week is a week of opportunity at the Krause Leadership Symposium. We have a chance to learn from world-class speakers, a Medal of Honor recipient, and more than 50 students from other colleges. Some of the symposium is mandatory; most of it is not.  Most of it is simply opportunity for the taking.

Leaders look for opportunity and they lead others to it.

Review the schedule for the Symposium on line at Make a personal commitment to grab hold of next week’s opportunity and encourage others to make the same decision.

Happy 171st birthday!

A Quick Point to Ponder (posted 2/28/2014):

Getting a debrief on our peer evaluations offers us a chance to assess self-awareness, gain confidence, and improve ourselves.

Try identifying a few key strengths and weak areas before the TAC gives us feedback on what our peers might have highlighted as our strengths or areas where we might improve. Instinctively, most of us know our “goods” and “bads.” Sometimes, though, we just plain fail to capitalize on strengths and choose to ignore less-than-good areas. A peer evaluation can validate our instincts and help us make progress as leaders and people.

Rick Atkinson, our Greater Issues Speaker on 13 March, described General Dwight Eisenhower this way: “Vigor, authenticity, and integrity remained Eisenhower’s trademarks; he possessed a big brain and a big heart.”1

“Vigor” … “Authenticity” … “Integrity” … “Big Brain” … “Big Heart” -- any one of those descriptors would be awfully nice to see on a peer evaluation, wouldn’t it? What about “Hardworking” … “Humble” … “Teamwork”?

Be prepared & fight for feedback from the TAC. We might find some of our classmates used some mighty fine words to describe us, too.  

1 Rick Atkinson, as quoted in The Day of Battle, p. 317


A Quick Point to Ponder (posted 2/21/2014):

Asked “what advice do you give to graduating college students,” here’s what the Chairman and CEO of the Chicago-based Ariel Investments had to say:

"I try to get them to focus on a few things. One is the importance of hard work and really putting in the extra effort from Day 1, when they start their careers. Surprise your boss that you’re there on a Saturday or a Sunday or late in the evening. It shows people you’re committed.

The second thing is to always look for ways to help your teammates.

And the third thing is to make sure you live up to the commitments that you make to your teammates. Become that rare person where people know that your word is your bond and you’re going to do exactly what you say you’re going to do."

“Hard work”… “Extra effort”… “Help your teammates”… “Live up to commitments” … it sure sounds like The Citadel way of life.  And, that’s particularly true on President’s Inspection weekend. Let’s make sure Gen Rosa can’t miss our hard work and teamwork tomorrow.

John W. Rogers Jr, Chairman, CEO, Ariel Investments, quoted in “Corner Office,” NY Times, 16 Feb 2014


 A Quick Point to Ponder (posted 2/14/2014):

Over the next several weeks, the Corps will begin preparing for the 31 March arrival of the SACS Accreditation team. We all have an interest in The Citadel maintaining its accreditation (we definitely want our diplomas to mean something), so a little bit of prep is a good thing.

Our big focus in the run-up to the visit will be ethical decision making, particularly the fact that that we don’t just talk about ethics, we put “Ethics In Action” every day at The Citadel.

To start us thinking about how much ethical decision making matters to our success after graduation, consider this excerpt from the NY Times, an article about a Notre Dame course on modern weapons in war:

The syllabus…centers on the arsenal of the high-tech era: drones, cyberwarfare, robotics, data mining, soldier enhancement by prostheses or drugs. Just because we have these weapons, [the professor] asked the class, should we use them? If we use them, how can we stop others from using them? …

And while the hardware is new, the questions are not…

[The professor] spoke of Agent Orange, the toxic defoliant used in the Vietnam War.

“At the time, it was an expedient thing to do,” [the professor] said, using words that could well apply to drones today. “It helped us find the enemy. But was there anyone who thought about long-term consequence? I contend there was nobody…”

“There’s no better place than Notre Dame to be thinking about these kinds of issues,” [the professor] said.1

Actually, professor, we would argue there is a better place—it’s The Citadel, Ethics in Action Since 1842.

 1 Sam Freedman, New York Times, “A General in a Classroom Takes On the Ethics of War” 8 Feb 2014

A Quick Point to Ponder (posted 2/7/14):

Did you ever wonder
why great leaders are so good at remembering names? And, if they don’t know someone’s name, they never fail to introduce themselves and ask for a name.

Leadership is a human endeavor, and the simple act of calling someone by name creates a bond and shows a measure of respect between the leader and the led.

Consider a lesson learned by a first-year midshipman (plebe) at the United States Naval Academy:

“‘It’s bad enough starting out not knowing anything, but also your brain just sort of turns off and you go into robot mode,’ [Midshipman Fourth Class] Johnson said. ‘I was running and had just seen several first class midshipmen whose names I was supposed to have memorized [and called out], but couldn’t. With all of those names going through my mind, I ran past Senior Chief Wood and completely blanked out his name. As I stopped he said ‘Mr. Johnson, I understand that you are going through a hard time right now, but so is everyone else. When you are out in the fleet you will have people [working] underneath you and above you. If you don’t have the determination or common decency and respect to learn their names, they are never going to work for you.’ Needless to say, I never forgot his name again, but that was all he had to say to teach me a very valuable leadership trait.”1

To a great leader, connecting every person with a name is important. So what’s in a name? Leadership, that’s what.

1 Story by MC1(AW) R. Jason Brunson
A Quick Point to Ponder
(posted 1/31/14):

As we get ready to enjoy Super Bowl XLVIII on Sunday, it’s worth considering what each of us has personally done to ensure the Super Bowl is both fun and safe for everyone in our unit.

Have we been inclusive in inviting people from our unit to watch the Super Bowl with us?

Have we committed to keeping the Super Bowl events both fun and classy, where we represent the very best of The Citadel in our actions and words?

Have we reminded each other to be responsible with regards to alcohol?

Did we make a personal contract with another cadet to “watch out for each other on Sunday night?”

A Quick Point to Ponder (posted 1/24/2014):

Chris Hadfield recently wrote the book An Astronaut’s Guide to Life and Earth. According to a The Wall Street Journal book review, Hadfield follows a different approach than most “how-to-succeed ” books:

“[The author’s] perspective is reflected in counterintuitive chapter titles like ‘Sweat the Small Stuff,” where he argues that seemingly unimportant details may loom large in an emergency and thus require our consideration beforehand. In ‘The Power of Negative Thinking,’ he says that the normal day of astronauts in training involves having countless meetings about what they got wrong—an approach, he explains, that saves lives.”1

“Sweat the small stuff” sounds like what we do in preparing for “all the letter I-s” – F.A.I.s…P.A.I.s…S.M.I.s…

And, “the power of negative thinking” is exactly what we do after big inspections. We examine what didn’t go well as a way to make improvements.

So next time we’re wondering why “smiles go up” on socks and why we grade ourselves in such an exacting way, remember the habits of the mind we’re building now will serve us well long after graduation, even if we don’t go to space.

We might not all want to be astronauts, but trained in The Citadel Way, we sure would have a leg up if we did. Keep those socks smilin’.

1From a book review by Adam Savage, “Floating in a Tin Can,” WSJ, November 30 – December 1, 2013

A Quick Point to Ponder (posted 1/17/2014)

As we get underway in the spring term, trying to regain the momentum from last term, or perhaps wanting to make this semester a better one in terms of grades or goal attainment, it might be useful for us to look to history to see how another leader faced new challenges.

In Rick Atkinson’s book An Army at Dawn, we gain insight into the learning curve of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was cutting his teeth as a commander in North Africa in WWII. Ike’s approach to “getting better as a leader” might point the way for us.  From the book:

“As always, he contemplated the art of generalship through the lens of his own shortcomings. ‘Through all this I am learning many things…that waiting for other people to produce is one of the hardest things a commander has to do.’ Even more important, ‘an orderly, logical mind [is] absolutely essential to success…’”

“He studied his mistakes—this practice was always one of Eisenhower’s virtues—and absorbed the lessons for future battles in Italy and western Europe.”

“Eisenhower wrote his own son at West Point: ‘I have observed very frequently that it is not the man who is so brilliant [who] delivers in time of stress and strain, but rather the man who can keep on going indefinitely, do a good straightforward job.’”

Keeping “an orderly, logical mind” and doing “a good straightforward job”—if that approach was good enough for Ike, it ought to be good enough for us.

Post Script: Rick Atkinson is the keynote speaker for this year’s Krause Leadership Symposium in March.
A Quick Point to Ponder (Posted 11/22/2013):

his furlough, we would do well to pause and be grateful for our many fortunes, to include the opportunity to be part of the Corps of Cadets and to learn how to lead others to success.

And, since it’s in all our nature to wish or to pray for more good fortune, may we return from furlough rested, recharged, and recommitted to learn leadership and, when given the chance, to lead others with humility, with wisdom, and with good purpose.

A Quick Point to Ponder (Posted 11/15/2013):

It’s never too late to lead. For tomorrow’s Commandant Inspection,

  1. Have we set the right tone for the inspection?  The inspection is our chance to “show off” our home to the Commandant. This is our chance to demonstrate our discipline, our teamwork, and that we’re willing to put in the right level of effort.
  2. Have we reminded our inspection team to “inspect what we expect”?  Last August, we laid out a simple “Inspection 101” checklist (see checklist below). By now, we’ve completed items 1 & 2. We’re missing a huge opportunity to make the unit better tomorrow if we don’t finish the checklist. Inspect what we expect.

No single event during this semester offers a greater opportunity for the Corps to give the Commandant a truer picture of our professionalism and commitment. Make tomorrow count. Be a leader. Beat VMI.

1. Deliberately decide what the expectations are for the unit.
2. Communicate expectations simply and often.
3. Inspect what you expect, to both reinforce expectations and make the unit better.

A Quick Point to Ponder (Posted 11/8/2013):

 On Tuesday, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) will address the Corps as part of our Greater Issues Series.

 There are two distinct lenses (among others) through which we might view the Senator’s event on Tuesday.

 We might see the event as little more than a political event. If we were to do so, we would either be a passive, disinterested audience – if we cynically see our role as simply a TV camera backdrop – or an energized, lean-forward-in-your-seat crowd – if we think our job is to be supportive of the Senator’s political positions.

 The other lens might be considered a “leader lens.” With leader glasses on, we would take our seats in McAlister ready to answer the following questions:

  • To “who” is Senator Paul speaking? Is the audience cadets, with a message tailored for us? Or, are we the crowd but the intended audience is TV viewers?
  • “What” is the central message of Senator Paul's remarks? Is the message grounded in current political questions? Or is it a timeless message or vision he is trying to convey?
  • “Why” did Senator Paul choose this particular audience (question 1 above) and this specific message (question 2 above)?
  • What were the strengths and weaknesses in Senator Paul's delivery?

Recommendation: strap on the leader goggles! They are better than Google Glass any day.


A Quick Point to Ponder (Posted 11/1/2013):

Sox Win! Sox Win!

The Boston Red Sox are World Series Champions. That’s quite a turnaround for a team who finished last in the AL East just a year ago.

What made the difference this year? While a team full of gamers and some good luck certainly contributed to more winning, there is no doubt the leadership of manager John Farrell mattered.

Farrell took the reins this year, following the disastrous, one-year tenure of Bobby Valentine, who led the Red Sox to their worst record in almost 50 years.

“[Farrell] provided solid leadership from Day 1,” Red Sox owner John Henry said Wednesday night after the team clinched the title over the St. Louis Cardinals. “Players wanted to win for him, and that's huge…”

Players also praised Farrell's leadership. Pitcher John Lackey said, “the chemistry was unbelievable in the clubhouse. You could feel it from spring training. But we had good ballplayers, too. Chemistry hasn't won anything, but it sure as heck helps when you really care about each other.” 1

In our terms, we would say John Farrell set a positive command climate with the Boston Red Sox. With his leadership the clubhouse became a place where trust, shared commitment, and teamwork were palpable. The result: a World Series championship.

What’s the command climate we want for our “team”?

1 Quotes from article, “John Farrell Praised for Leadership as Red Sox Claim World Series Win”, by Jimmy Golen, The Associated Press, Published Thur, 31 Oct)


A Quick Point to Ponder (Posted 10/25/2013):

We fight the way we train. We play the way we practice.

In battle, shortcuts during training create more combat losses. In team sports, poor practice adds notches in the “wrong” column—the loss column.

Regarding the goodness of training, SFC Leroy A. Petry, Medal of Honor recipient, left us with a personal example last Tuesday evening. In that crucial moment when his right hand was blown clean off, he unhesitatingly and calmly applied the life-saving tourniquet to his arm. In his words, it was “instinct” and only possible because of “great medic training I got.”

SFC Petry’s not dead because he took his training seriously. His example should guide our approach to every bit of training we get – from CPR to self-aid buddy care to fire drills to infield practice and two-minute drills.

We fight the way we train!


A Quick Point to Ponder (Posted 10/17/2013):

Words matter.

Next Tuesday, the South Carolina Corps of Cadets will be privileged to host Medal of Honor Recipient SFC Leroy A. Petry.

The words in his Medal of Honor citation (below) are powerful. We should certainly read SFC Petry’s citation to learn what he did. If we read carefully, though, we’ll also appreciate why he did it.

Reading these words, we already know SFC Petry has a leader’s mindset.

Just think how much more we can learn by listening to him in person. See you Tuesday night.

Official Citation

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to

Staff Sergeant Leroy A. Petry United States Army

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

Staff Sergeant Leroy A. Petry distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action with an armed enemy in the vicinity of Paktya Province, Afghanistan, on May 26, 2008. As a Weapons Squad Leader with D Company, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Staff Sergeant Petry moved to clear the courtyard of a house that potentially contained high-value combatants. While crossing the courtyard, Staff Sergeant Petry and another Ranger were engaged and wounded by automatic weapons fire from enemy fighters. Still under enemy fire, and wounded in both legs, Staff Sergeant Petry led the other Ranger to cover. He then reported the situation and engaged the enemy with a hand grenade, providing suppression as another Ranger moved to his position. The enemy quickly responded by maneuvering closer and throwing grenades. The first grenade explosion knocked his two fellow Rangers to the ground and wounded both with shrapnel. A second grenade then landed only a few feet away from them. Instantly realizing the danger, Staff Sergeant Petry, unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his safety, deliberately and selflessly moved forward, picked up the grenade, and in an effort to clear the immediate threat, threw the grenade away from his fellow Rangers. As he was releasing the grenade it detonated, amputating his right hand at the wrist and further injuring him with multiple shrapnel wounds. Although picking up and throwing the live grenade grievously wounded Staff Sergeant Petry, his gallant act undeniably saved his fellow Rangers from being severely wounded or killed. Despite the severity of his wounds, Staff Sergeant Petry continued to maintain the presence of mind to place a tourniquet on his right wrist before communicating the situation by radio in order to coordinate support for himself and his fellow wounded Rangers. Staff Sergeant Petry's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service, and reflect great credit upon himself, 75th Ranger Regiment, and the United States Army.


A Quick Point to Ponder (Posted 10/11/2013):

In remarks to the Corps this week, Mr Stuart Shea, President & COO at Leidos, shared his perspectives on national security challenges, change, luck, and on leadership.

One point on leadership was particularly powerful.  After relating the story below, he asked us “what will our one sentence be?”

“In 1962, Clare Boothe Luce, on of the first women to serve in the U.S. Congress, offered some advice to President John F. Kennedy. ‘A great man,’ she told him, ‘is one sentence.’ Abraham Lincoln’s sentence was: ‘He preserved the union and freed the slaves.’ Franklin Roosevelt’s was: ‘He lifted us out of a great depression and helped us win a world war.’

…One way to orient your life toward greater purpose is to think about your sentence.”*

Well, what will that one sentence be?

*from Daniel Pink, Drive, pp. 154-155


A Quick Point to Ponder (Posted 10/4/2013):

Never forget.

Today, the Class of 2014 earns “The Ring.” In a tradition that began in 2004, the new rings include the melted gold from the rings of previous Citadel graduates, all of whom chose, as a final tribute, to donate their rings to future graduates. In this way, the Class of ’14 will forever be connected to these nine graduates: 

  • Frank Lacy, ’44
  • Alfredo Rubens, ‘44
  • Thomas Dawson, ‘54
  • Robert Fisher, ‘54
  • Victor Haendle, ‘54
  • William Howard, ‘64
  • John Unterspan, ‘64
  • Philip Minges, ‘74
  • Aaron Wittman, ‘07

May we never forget our duty to these nine graduates and all who wear “The Ring.”


A Quick Point to Ponder (Posted 9/27/2013):

"When a person doesn’t have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude toward gratitude.” -- Elie Wiesel, Auschwitz Survivor, Awarded Nobel Peace Prize, 1986

Parents’ weekend is a few short days away (6 & a wake up, to be exact). With the campus swarming with guests, it is an excellent opportunity to say “thank you” to family and friends.

For all of us, the support of family and friends has made all the difference so far. And, they will continue to be a source of strength and inspiration as long as we walk on the planet.

Our challenge this week: say “thank you,” and say it often. We cannot say it too much.


A Quick Point to Ponder (Posted 9/20/2013):

14 days and a wakeup can be heard all over campus. On October 4th, seniors gain the privilege of wearing The Citadel Band of Gold.

For the Class of ’14, the Band of Gold serves as a constant, visible reminder of both our accomplishments to date and our shared experiences with classmates.

Have we considered how visible the ring is to others?

While we rightly pause in two weeks to honor our success, we should also acknowledge the Band of Gold is a privilege with lasting obligation. The ring is visible to others. In wearing our ring, our every action and word conveys “something” about The Citadel to everyone around us.

We have 14 days and a wakeup for the privilege of wearing the ring; 232 days and wakeup to make a positive impact as a cadet; and a lifetime (until there are no more wakeups) to enhance the reputation of The Citadel.


From The Citadel Code:

 “…To resolve to carry its standards into my future career and to place right above gain and a reputation for integrity above power.

To remember always that the honor of being a Citadel cadet and graduate imposes upon me a corresponding obligation…”

- General Charles P. Summerall, President of The Citadel, 1931-1953


A Quick Point to Ponder (Posted 9/13/2013):

“The only thing necessary for Corps standards to wane is that leaders do nothing.”

Upholding standards is at the top of any list of a leader’s responsibilities. And, that responsibility extends to all standards, not just some of them.

How are we creating a culture and command climate that enforces embraces standards?

At the most basic level, leaders create a positive mindset regarding standards through their personal example. Leaders should also consider a few questions:

- Do we clearly state the purpose for every activity? For example, a leader might say about the Commandant’s Inspection, “this is about our company demonstrating our discipline, our teamwork, and that we’re willing to put in the right level of effort to ‘show off’ our home to the Commandant.”

- Do we see opportunity to improve the unit or enhance the reputation of the unit in every activity? For example, a leader might say about next week’s CPFT, “Excellence is our standard, which means giving it our personal best in the PT test. Our #1 goal, though, is everyone passes. Motivate each other as we knock out push-ups and sit-ups. When you finish the run, our standard is to go back and find a company mate and get’em across the finish line.”

- Do we affirm our standards in every activity? For example, a leader might say to the guard, “thanks for being squared away…I notice, and you are setting the tone for the whole battalion.”

- Do we emphasize unit pride? For example, for last week’s Field Day, a leader might have said, “This is about company camaraderie, and it’s about winning. Even when we’re not competing, we’re going to stay together as a company…and we’re going to win.”

Do we enforce or do we embrace standards?


A Quick Point to Ponder (Posted 9/6/2013):

Field Day—is it a mandatory event or a chance to demonstrate company pride (while also pummeling another unit or two)?

The answer to that question tells us what kind of team we’re a part of. A unit that sees Field Day as an opportunity is led by a leader who understands the concept of “excellence.” Excellence isn’t something we turn on and off. Winning teams never play for second best in anything. For high-performing teams, there is no such thing as good enough.

Somebody has to win the Field Day events—it might as well be our company that wins them all.

What’s the attitude we’re taking for Field Day? “We win, they lose” would be a worthy answer.


A Quick Point to Ponder (Posted 8/30/2013):

Of course, a leader is ALWAYS ready for inspection.

But if you find yourself leading a team or unit, how do you grow them to be ready for inspection?

Consider Inspection 101:

1. Deliberately decide what the expectations are for the unit.

2. Communicate expectations simply and often.

3. Inspect what you expect, to both reinforce expectations and make the unit better.

So, for tomorrow’s SMI, INSPECT WHAT YOU EXPECT. Does the unit know what you’ll be inspecting?


A Quick Point to Ponder (Posted 8/13/2013):

As we ready for the Class of 2017, it’s a worthy effort to reflect on “what” and “who” we remember from our orientation week at The Citadel. The answers ought to square away our perspective for next week.

As the Commandant said at his expectations brief yesterday, we’d also do well to consider Gen Omar Bradley’s thoughts on leadership: “Bossiness in itself never made a leader. He must make his influence felt by example and the instilling of confidence in his followers. The greatness of a leader is measured by the achievements of the led. This is the ultimate test of his effectiveness.”

T-4 days and counting—then we lead ’17 to success.


A Quick Point to Ponder (Posted 5/3/2013):

All of us – no matter what we have scheduled for the summer – have time to:

  • Stay in shape: The gym? Water sports? Get some road time in to be ready for the two-mile run.
  • Read to lead: Too many choices? Choose to read (or re-read) a true classic, Michael Shaara’s The Killer Angels. The perfect fit—a study in leadership and just in time for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg in July.
  • Be a leader: How often? All the time.


A Quick Point to Ponder (Posted 4/26/2013):

On May 4th, it’s official. The Class of 2013 joins the ranks of Citadel graduates.

As soon-to-be graduates, consider the cohort of family and friends who supported us during our Citadel experience. Who was there for us? When times were good and most especially when times were not so good? Graduation is a time to thank them all.

Graduation is also a good time to get our minds focused on how to be a successful from the start.  What will be our priority on day one in our chosen career?

A worthy goal in any profession is to earn, then keep our credibility. If we’re credible, there are unlimited opportunities for the Citadel grad. Good luck.


A Quick Point to Ponder (Posted 4/19/2013):

238 years ago today, the shot heard round the world was fired on the village green at Lexington.

On 19 April 1775, 77 minutemen engaged 700 British regulars and the fight for America’s liberty began in earnest. Captain John Parker famously told his men, “Stand your ground. Don't fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war let it begin here."

A little over a year later, 56 founders signed the Declaration of Independence, which closed with a solemn commitment, And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

At the signing of the Declaration, Ben Franklin said it a different way, telling the assembled group, “we must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

  • Why did the minutemen stand their ground?
  • Why did the signers of the Declaration take such personal risk?

These examples from our heritage get at what ultimately motivates us to endure crises and challenges. A lofty principle like liberty or honor might rally us to a cause. But we stand our ground for one simple, powerful reason—for each other.

  • How does the concept of mutual support apply to The Citadel Experience?
  • How will the concept play a role in your chosen profession after graduation?


A Quick Point to Ponder (Posted 4/12/2013):

The Class of 2016 has been preparing to move up the chain of command all year. Tomorrow the Corps rightly recognizes and celebrates their accomplishment.

That said, it is a good time for all us to remember that no matter what we do in life, no matter how high we climb up the ladder, we’ll always be following somebody. How often do we think about the powerful influence exerted by great followers?

By being the example in their professional and personal life, by taking the initiative, by being mutually supportive to their team and boss, by providing constructive input to the boss, the best followers find a way to be world-class leaders (though not the formal ones).

What kind of followers will we choose to be?


A Quick Point to Ponder (Posted 4/5/2013):

In 8 days & a wakeup, the Corps will recognize the Class of 2016.

For the class of 2016, a commitment to each other has carried us this far. That same mutual support is the key to success, for next Saturday, for the rest of The Citadel Experience, for life. Never give up & most certainly never give up on each other.

For the top three classes, think back (in some cases, think way back) to our recognition day. What do we remember? Who do we remember? We can be that cadet this year’s knobs remember. Be present. It matters. It inspires. It’s remembered.


A Quick Point to Ponder (Posted 3/29/2013):

This week the Commandant announced the rising leadership teams for next year with Memorandum No. 12. Congratulations to all on “the list.”

Whether we’re on that list or not, though, we will all be ramping up our leadership responsibilities next year. Increased responsibilities probably mean different priorities, goals (unit and personal), and daily routines. To jumpstart us getting our minds around new duties, consider these quotes:

ON EXPECTATIONS: "It is the nature of man to rise to greatness if greatness is expected of him." -- John Steinbeck

ON CONFIDENCE: "Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell 'em, "Certainly, I can!" Then get busy and find out how to do it." --Theodore Roosevelt

ON BEING POSITIVE: "Optimism is a force multiplier." --Colin Powell

ON DECISIONMAKING: "Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in." --Andrew Jackson

ON SHARING SUCCESS: "The deepest principle of human nature is the craving to be appreciated." -- William James


A Quick Point to Ponder Posted 3/22/2013:

One of the key responsibilities of a leader is to develop your replacement and set him or her up for success.

For seniors, there are 43 days and a wakeup until graduation—that’s only 43 days left to make for a smooth command transition from you to the junior leaders who will assume your positions next year.


A Quick Point to Ponder Posted 3/15/2013:

There are terrific parallels between baseball and leadership.

St Louis Cardinal pitching great Bob “Hoot” Gibson loved the game of baseball. The game to Gibson was to be revered, and he expected others to live up to that standard every day. There was a “right” way to play the game. If you didn’t play it right, there was no doubt that Gibson would bean you – put one right in your ear – the next time you came to the plate.

Same is true in any profession. Not the “beanball part,” of course, but a right way to play the game—with integrity, a sense of duty, and an absolute commitment to your teammates.

Are we – the Corps – playing the game right?


A Quick Point to Ponder Posted 3/8/2013:

Lieutenant General Michael Ferriter ‘79 addressed the Corps of Cadets as the Greater Issues speaker for the Sixth Annual Krause Principled Leadership Symposium. His talk centered on the concept of duty, and he challenged us to consider duty beyond the barracks and in our private lives.

Check out four of the General’s statements:

  • “It is our duty to lead our unit – of whatever type – when it gets tough. The mission doesn’t change, even if you have less money. It’s still your duty to get the job done.”
  • “If you want to lead Soldiers, it’s your duty to stay in shape.”
  • “We also have a duty to families—your family and the families of those in your care.”
  • “Find a man or woman, marry ‘em, then be true to them for your whole life. That’s your duty.”

How well do we measure up to General Ferriter’s concept of duty?


A Quick Point to Ponder Posted 3/1/2013:

This week’s quote of the week – known as “The Man in the Arena” quote – has served as an inspiration for many who Dare to Lead (quote below).

Did you know Nelson Mandela gave a copy of this Theodore Roosevelt speech to François Pienaar, captain of the South African rugby team, before the start of the 1995 Rugby World Cup? The South African side eventually defeated the heavily favored All Blacks.

Did you know Mark DeRosa, a ballplayer with the Washington Nationals, read the passage to teammates prior the pivotal game four versus the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2012 National League Division Series? The Nats won with a walk-off home run by slugger Jayson Werth.

What makes the man-in-the-arena leader so special? Will you dare to commit your sweat and blood to a worthy effort?


“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt


A Quick Point to Ponder Posted 2/22/2013:

With Citadel baseball underway and pitchers and catchers at work in spring training, it’s appropriate we use a baseball legend to start up a leadership discussion.

Hall of Famer and New York Yankee great Yogi Berra once quipped, “90 percent of baseball is half mental.” That’s mathematically impossible and pure wisdom!

A ballplayer’s mindset is everything in baseball. Skill takes a player only so far. The right approach to the game is also essential. Great hitters dig in with intensity, focus, and confidence on every pitch, regardless of the outcome of the last pitch. It’s the “next pitch” that matters, never the last one.

How’s your approach to leadership? Do you focus on the “next pitch” or the “last one”? Do you “dig in” with confidence every at bat?

Yogi might have had it wrong technically, but he most definitely had it 100 percent right conceptually.

One last thing: remember “there is no crying in baseball.”


A Quick Point to Ponder Posted 2/15/2013:

Winston Churchill said, “all the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.”

It’s worth pondering what Churchill did not say. He did not say “great things are easy to attain” or “all great things once attained last forever.” Preserving great things requires commitment and vigilance.

The concept of duty, on Churchill’s list and one of The Citadel Core Values, is ours to preserve.

From this perspective, consider General Lee’s thoughts on duty, and not just the first sentence we see at the sally port of the barracks but the full quote:

“Duty is the sublimest word in the English language. You should do your duty in all things. You can never do more; you should never wish to do less.” – General Robert E. Lee


A Quick Point to Ponder Posted 2/8/2013:

General Omar Bradley once said, “The greatness of a leader is measured by the achievements of the led. This is the ultimate test of his [or her] effectiveness.”

The President’s Inspection is just 15 days and a wake up away. No single event during the year offers a greater opportunity for the entire Corps to give The Citadel President a true picture of Corps professionalism and commitment to principled leadership.

Are we ready for General Rosa to judge our effectiveness as leaders on 23 February?


A Quick Point to Ponder Posted 2/1/2013:

In honor of Super Bowl XLVII, the list below is a short list of football clichés you are almost guaranteed to hear on Super Bowl Sunday. You also hear the metaphors used a lot by leaders. While sports metaphors don’t always work well, depending on the audience, in this case, I think each gets at a worthwhile leadership principle for your consideration. What do you think?

- There seemed to be a miscommunication on that play.” [Leadership principle: effective communicators invest a lot of time and energy in connecting with their people & reinforcing important themes.]

- “They have to take care of the football.” [Leadership principle: take care of your most important asset – people]

- “They left it all on the field.” [Leadership principle: Effective leadership requires plenty o’ persistence and hard work]

- I would have gone for the field goal, but maybe that’s why I’m up here and the coaches are down there.” [Leadership principle: Like TR might say, “it’s not the critic who counts; it’s the man in the arena”]


A Quick Point to Ponder Posted 1/18/2013:

In the movie Saving Private Ryan, Captain John Miller says to one of his troops, in part,“…I'm a captain. There's a chain of command. Gripes go up, not down. Always up. You gripe to me, I gripe to my superior officer, so on, so on, and so on. I don't gripe to you. I don't gripe in front of you.”

What would happen to an organization if a leader forgot this age-old tenet of leadership? Would it impact morale?




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