"There's nothing wrong with American kids. Their leadership has just all gone to hell" Chesty Puller said, when called to command in the Korean War. "We're the most fortunate of men... we've sat on our fat duffs drawing our pay, now we get a chance to earn it, to show the taxpayers we're worth it."
I'm studying military history and mining for life lessons from America's greatest leaders. I have a biography of Chesty Puller on the way and I think it'll be a great read. If you aren't familiar, Puller was one of the most decorated Marines in American history.
Puller's leadership style was to empower his men, to believe in them, to tell them exactly what he expected of them and to stand firm in his convictions, without running the men ragged with orders. He cared more about their competency than their appearance, for example.
Our leaders today could use a lesson in ownership. Puller recognized that it's the responsibility of leaders to make men of boys, whereas, our leaders today take no responsibility to mentor and to influence young people. Instead, they blame the younger generation for issues that have arisen under their own leadership.
What if our leaders accepted responsibility instead of shifting the blame onto millennials and making excuses? What if our leaders had a never-flinching, default-aggressive, hold-the-line at all costs and charge at every opportunity sort of mentality, like a strong Marine? What if, at the very least, they led with self-confidence instead of hubris?
What if our leaders weren't so insecure? What if they weren't so worried about their positions? What if they could train younger men without feeling threatened by youth? What if that kind of leadership was demanded of our representatives, governors, senators, and presidents?
Puller didn't blame youthfulness and inexperience for the problems that he faced. On several occasions, he took control of an inexperienced battalion and worked to train them and make them successful. He was shot several times in battle, and could have blamed the inexperienced troops around him. He never did.
That's the kind of leadership we need today. Rather than a bunch of power-hungry millennial-bashing career politicians who "sit on their fat duffs and draw a check," as Puller would say.
The kids are alright, as the song says. But are the grown-ups?