When LTG Guy Swan (US Army retired, and AUSA Vice President) and I were discussing my book Marathon War at the AUSA Thought Leader’s WEBINAR a few weeks ago, he commented about mentorship, and I wanted to share some thoughts with you all on the subject.
He noted how many officers who worked under my command have gone on to very senior ranks, including the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the Chief of Staff of the Army, the AFRICOM Combatant Commander, as well as the current Polish Chief of Defense. We talked about the value of mentoring, and I mentioned the incredible mentors I had had as I came up through the ranks: it was those officers, non-commissioned officers, and warrant officers that set me on the course that allowed me to be everything I could be as a professional soldier, as well as really expanding my perspective about world affairs and national security.
What I learned about mentoring from those I regard as my best mentors as well as my time spent trying to mentor others: it takes time; hours of listening and give and take; the willingness to subsume one’s own ego to walk in another’s boots; and maybe most of all, the willingness to provide a personal perspective of your own mistakes in life. I don’t think I ever provided an answer to anyone I mentored, but I did encourage them to look at life’s questions and find their own way.
To this day I still believe mentorship is really important, regardless of profession.
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