What does getting excited about a math test have to do with the Army?
If you'd like to know, you've come to the right blog.
Several years ago, in my life before soldierhood, I taught math to "traditionally underserved" students, a term that basically means the school district they were in sucked.
But we had a good school, and an even better math department. One of my challenges was to get these kids excited to learn and excited to show what they learned.
Long before I was a member of the Army, I had a crowd of generals...looking up to me. One of my strategies was to reward students who scored a 4.0 on an exam (the equivalent of a near-perfect score) membership among Stowell's 4-Star Generals.
It was just one way to motivate kids to want to do their best, and many of my students genuinely looked forward to taking those tests.
In the real Army, a command sergeant major of mine once wrote, "We need leadership, not likership."
What about "respectership?"
The ironic thing is that nobody I knew liked the CSM, nor did they think he was a good leader. He certainly didn't garner any legitimate respect.
Now the tie-in. My students respected me, and looked toward me for leadership. They gave their all for me and performed well because I had set up a system in which they felt safe, valued, and respected, yet challenged. Guess what-- they also liked me.
Leadership and "likership" are not incompatible. In fact, they often complement each other.
Too many Army leaders will end up like the poor CSM: no friends, and nobody who will follow them anywhere unless forced.
A true leader can have positive influence without all the stripes.
So when Soldiers tell me they hated math, I tell them it's because they didn't have the right teacher. If you don't like the Army? I'll let you figure that one out.
(Photo by SPC Drew Balstad)