Certain things usually alert me to flee. One of them is failure of the writing and editorial process. While such failure is often of the ‘I know it when I see it’ variety, there are some lapses that almost anyone can see.
As in this sentence: “The purpose of an aircraft carrier is to carry aircraft.” It comes from an article entitled “Shipmates: Life on an Aircraft Carrier“ by Geoff Dyer that appears in the Journeys (April 21, 2014) issue of the New Yorker. (Pay wall, but you can get a free 1-month trial.) Between the title and that sentence there’s little reason to read on.
And yet I did.
I’ve said before that I have a reading hair shirt that drives me to complete even painful-to-read books. But I’ve never applied that standard to magazines so I was uncertain what force in the universe compelled me to keep pushing on.
And then I got to the part where the ship’s captain speaks. It’s worth quoting at length:
“He went on, “I’m an old-fashioned forward thinker. Mission first, people always. We’re on a warship so certain things have to be the way they are. But every sailor in this ship is a volunteer. They gave up something to be here. So we have to give ‘en something back. A lot of it is just standard leadership. Eat after they eat, sleep after they sleep. Never give them an order if you don’t understand what it’ll mean they have to do.” (emphasis added)
It’s probably me but there’s a lot of blather about leadership at any given time. My typical reaction is that if you’re that busy talking about it you’re probably not doing it.
But read the captain’s definition of standard leadership again. Does that describe any of the people jockeying to be recognized as leaders? Just ask yourself if that describes any elected official or corporate titan you’ve encountered?
I know how I’d have to answer that question. I’d rather work with the Captain.