Happy Veteran’s Day! If today’s screed seems familiar, it’s because I was reviewing what I wrote on this holiday last year and I decided I couldn’t improve my thinking so I’m letting the post loose on you all once more. I hope you share my thinking, both about the post and the day. Back to the usual raving tomorrow.
Often when a national holiday approaches I’ll go back over my posts to see what I’ve written about the day in the past. I’ve written about Veteran’s Day, which we celebrate today, here, here, and here.
Feel free to go back and read them but I noticed a common theme that I want to repeat and pretty big omission that I want to correct.
In each of those posts I thank our men and women who served to protect and defend this country. I do again. “My war” would have been Vietnam just as my Dad’s was WWII. He served when his time came because he was needed; I didn’t since the war was winding down and the draft was ending. Putting the politics aside is almost impossible when discussing the differences between those two conflicts but the service given by those who went is indistinguishable.
I also draw an inelegant analogy between those folks selfless service to us and how businesses ought to be dedicated to serving their customers. I also touch upon the teamwork needed to succeed. A long time ago Fast Company published an article which cited an interesting study:
After World War II, the US military commissioned S.L.A. Marshall, a Harvard historian, to do a remarkable study. The question he was asked to research was, literally, why are men willing to die in war? Marshall was allowed to advance and test a variety of explanations. Patriotism – people would die for their country. Or family – men would fight and die to protect their wives and children. The answer that finally emerged was small-group integrity. In a group of people where each is truly committed to the others, no one will be the first to run. So they all stand and fight together.
You know I’m a big proponent of teamwork and believe it’s critical to business success. The article goes on to talk about managerial courage and how it’s tested and that brings up the omission I want to correct. Too many of us talk about business as war from time to time, just as we do comparing sports to combat. We need to stop that. I used to say that the best part of what I did was that when I screwed up nobody died. Protecting one’s country for a lousy salary and risking a life can in no way be compared to playing a game for a lot of money or running a business for an obscene amount.
So to my Dad, my other family members, schoolmates, and the millions who stepped forward when their time came to serve I say thank you. We voted last week – you made that possible. Think about that as you conduct your business the rest of this week and you serve customers. clients, and commercial causes, hopefully as well as the Vets served us.