I had the distinct honor of speaking to the AFROTC group at the University of Texas today. As I went through my stories of combat, patriotism, and humor. One thing sticks out to me about these cadets — they are as good or if not better than I was when I was headed out to the Military.

I know the easy answer is to jump on the bandwagon about Millenials and state something negative. I would not and could not do that here about these fantastic young men and women that are about to head out to serve this great nation. They were energetic, eager to learn, and asked questions that had deeper meaning. They genuinely want to be better Officers in the future through learning and growing. It was purely my pleasure to be able to speak to them and hope that I added value to their lives with these 10 things listed below.

1.Sense of Urgency – I wasn’t all that great when I did my summer Cadet detail. I didn’t react in the time that was necessary and after several rounds of counseling; it led to reprimand. I needed to learn how to set priorities that I would use in Combat. Let me tie these in with how I (we) handle priorities today. When I finally learned to do these four items below, I’ve used them consistently over my career.

  1. Do
  2. Delegate
  3. Delay
  4. Delete

2. Morals make Morale – Establish early what you believe in and make it well known. Your morals and values make your platform. What you stand for and what you believe in. Stick to them, even when they get pushed.

West Point Values – Duty Honor Country

Army Values – LDRSHIP – Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless-Service, Honor, Integrity, Personal Courage. (Honor is in here twice, so it must be important)

3. Establish Trust – Early – would you share a foxhole with yourself? Ask yourself this question and those around you. You will find out that answer fairly quickly and it can help you guide those skills that you need to work on to improve.

4. Build Credibility – Do all the easy things right – (Uniform, marching, PT test, showing up on time) – You will be surprised at those who don’t.

5. Humility – Humility is the true key to success. Successful people lose their way at times. They often embrace and overindulge from the fruits of success. Humility halts this arrogance and self-indulging trap. Humble people share the credit and wealth, remaining focused and hungry to continue the journey of success. – Rick Pitino

Regardless of how well we are doing – a serving of humble pie can be well deserved for all of us.

6. Fast Flexibility – Fast being the key here, adapting to slow change is much easier than being told to change your strategy, even if you have been working on it for weeks. New information to any situation can make that change happen instantaneously. Adapt and overcome happens quickly, not at your leisure – combines sense of urgency with problem-solving skills that are required to be a resilient leader

7. Build that Bond – With all those around you. Events and hard times will build that bond faster than anything else.

8. Empowerment – Delegate and believe in your Non-Commissioned Officer’s, they have many years of experience that will serve you well as long as you are willing to listen and be coachable.

9. By the Eye, not by the Voice – You want to lead in PT, then you need to be great at PT, you want to be first in your unit at anything, you need to show dedication and be the example.

10. Always. Always. Always – Believe in yourself – This world will humble you. Quickly. You are doing this training and going through all of it, take your experiences and always believe in yourself. People won’t follow someone that they can’t believe in.

Please add your top thing you learned as a Cadet in the comments! I would love to see all the things I missed!

Hook ’em!

Go Black Knights!