Why Winning Is Critical Today In America
There was an article recently reported in the Washington Post titled "West Point is placing too much emphasis on football" which has many of us "old grads" up in arms about the importance of sports within the framework of the mission of the United States Military Academy.
The article was written by a West Point graduate and current history instructor at the academy. In a nutshell, the headline says it all regarding his position ... sports and winning are not mission critical at West Point.
This article is a bit off-topic for the Tallahassee Real Estate Blog, though in the end you will see that it too relates to a job well done, in any profession.
The Purpose Of This Post
For those readers who have been with us for a while, you know that I rarely stray too far from the Tallahassee real estate market. You also know that I get up at "o-dark" and write my daily posts each morning, often publishing before the sun comes up. At West Point, where my prowess in English classes was not highly regarded, we referred to my writing style as "rough draft = final copy" and that process will be evident today.
For me, this article is a multi-purpose opportunity; it is a confession, an apology, a rant, and a response to an epidemic of sorriness that I fear permeates far beyond the banks of the Hudson in New York.
I am a father of three children, and I have to confess that I truly fear for their future. While I am sure that most parents (forever) have feared for the future of their children, my viewpoint is not purely emotional. I have fought for this Country, and I have seen first hand the importance of strong leadership and an unrelenting focus on winning.
I can promise you this, the parents of the forty men that I took into battle did not want me to try hard. They wanted a win. Period.
I have two boys who will likely explore opportunities to serve in the United States armed forces one day. So what is my biggest fear? I worry they will end up in a combat situation being "lead" by somebody who is politically correct, highly educated, and full of reasons why winning is not the most important thing on the battlefield.
The Washington Post article points out that West Point has a great interest in "producing the best possible officers for long-term service in the Army," but I think as an absolute, this is an error.
While many graduates and classmates of mine still serve and represent everything that the author believes to be the embodiment of the Academy's mission, so too are the others who did not serve a 20 or 30 year career that contributed exceptional service to the Country. A diversity in leadership ensures that group-think and political correctness do not erode the the core of the organization that serves to protect our way of life.
My favorite quote on winning was by the famous football coach Vince Lombardi. This quote was displayed on a sign in the "old gym" at Leon High School, and I read it every day for four years of my life:
Winning is not a sometime thing; it's an all time thing. You don't win once in a while, you don't do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time. Winning is habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.
If I could produce nothing more as my response to the Washington Post article, it would be that quote.
If the leader of the United States Military Academy does not demand winning habits, then he is endorsing losing habits.
General Caslen is the leader of the Academy, I can imagine nothing more important than a singular minded focus on winning. Do we really want him to tolerate failure and loss?
Several years ago, the current Superintedent of West Point was the brand-new Commandant of the Academy. During a conversation with myself and fellow "old Army Football player" Ron Rice, General Caslen invited us to his home. I made a flippant comment to the General that I now regret. Especially now. Especially as I have seen him take a non-politically-correct stand against sorriness at West Point.
I once told General Caslen, half jokingly, that he doesn't stand for what what I do (because he was part of the chain of command that would allow the Army Football team to continue down a losing path). But I was wrong. Way wrong, and for that I apologize to General Caslen.
The article in the Washington Post appears to be about winning at Army, but I think it extends far beyond the Academy.
Our society has enjoyed the benefits won by those who have served, fought, lived and died for our freedoms. Are we now the spoiled, entitled by birth inheritors that will bring ruin and an end to our Country, or are we the descendants of winners who choose to keep winning? Sadly, I suspect the former more so than the latter.
I once wrote a rant of sorts against Little League Baseball Parents ... you know the type. Are you one? The parents that demand everybody on the team gets a trophy, even when the team loses? Let's reward "Billy" for being on the team, it's not his fault the other team is better.
I do not want Billy leading my sons one day, into battle, into business, not even into traffic. Do you?
If my boys have to go off to war, I want them lead by Bob Caslen or a group of winners trained by Bob Caslen.
Winning Is Critical
One of the things I attempt to teach my real estate agents is that if we focus too hard on the people in our industry, we get tainted. We start believing "real estate-isms" instead of truly hearing what our customers have to say. Group-think and political correctness are a way of life in America, and it makes us sorry.
While I do not claim to be excellent in every aspect of the real estate brokerage business, I can assure you that it is my sole focus. I want to deliver a better buyer experience and a better seller experience for those families that hire us to handle their real estate transactions. When you employ us to negotiate the largest transaction of your life, I can assure you winning is critical.
I demand that we win for those who have hired us, because a win in real estate is money. Our mission is not on the same level of importance as that of our military, but I suspect our customers are glad that we work and train to win while managing their affairs.