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Giving Back


The New Solution


J. D. Pendry


Have you ever thought about what you owe to others for the good that comes your way?Unfortunately, thatís not always the first thought that pops into mind when we are being recognized or rewarded.Human nature, however, urges us to give something back when we have a bad experience.The revenge factor is quite prevalent with humans (soldiers are included in this group) and itís usually a bit stronger than the gratitude factor.If revenge isnít swift then us humans experience the grudge factor.


There are people I dislike from years ago for wrongs or perceived wrongs done to me or mine.Iíve mellowed in my old age so, with few exceptions, there isnít much of a grudge factor left.There was a day when, as they say here in the hills, that I wouldnít have crossed the road to pee on them if they were on fire.Yep, as a culture we are good at giving back when we feel wronged.In fact, we spend much time and energy doing just that.When your job forces you to punish a subordinate, do you look at it as giving him what he deserves or do you look at it as a chance to steer him toward being productive?Itís an important leadership question to ponder.


Weíve become quite skilled at giving folks what we think they deserve when applying our revenge.However, as a leader or potential leader, how do you return good to others?Donít you think they deserve that also?The others Iím speaking of are those who depend on you for leadership, mission accomplishment or the candor and support that a peer needs.This collection of ďothersĒ usually has much to do with our successes and little to do with the failures that we often look to attribute to them.


How do you share the good?How do you give back?Interesting questions for our too often practiced ďwhatís in it for meĒ existence.


Over here in the wild wonderful, local folks call it sharing the blessing.When youíre blessed with something good, youíre obligated to share it in some way with others.In other words, give back.If you just ponder that for a while, itíll cause you to wonder if youíve been doing it.We all like to think we have.Most of us profess to.But do we?Really?


Young NCOs work hard to become members of the Armyís prestigious leadership clubs.If youíre one of them, do you use that bit of good fortune that came your way and the doors it opened for you to make it better for those who depend on you?Or, do you use it only to further advance yourself?


If you are appointed as a commander, CSM or 1SG, do you use the position to make it better for those who depend on you?Or do you use it for the perks, privileges and political contacts the job steers your way?


Unfortunately, weíve all known leaders, or better described as those holding leadership positions, who spend more time advancing self than giving back to the people who made significant contributions to their success.They, however, usually make a spectacle of meting out punishment, or playing gothca with those they owe once theyíre in a position to make them pay.


Thereís an interesting class distinction here as well.On the surface, those who appear to give the most are those whoíve gained the least.The opposite is also true.Those who appear to have the most are the ones seen contributing the least.Look around our country.Do you see any of the rich and famous in uniform?Are any of them police, soldiers, or firemen?Those same parallels apply to the Army.Do those who depend on you see you giving something back or do they just observe you enjoying the privilege that accompanies your rank and position?


I equate giving back to the golden standard.That is of course, treating others as youíd like to be treated.How does that apply?Simple.If youíd like the good shared with you, then share it with those who depend on you.Weíve all gained a lot from being citizens of this country.Most who read this are giving back or have given back through their service.Others give back in different ways.And some, not at all.


Maybe giving back is a thought worth pondering as we move into a new year.


My wife is quite a person. Anyone who would tolerate me for all of these years, raise a son and put up with the life of an Army wife is special.Her first language is not English.Anyone who can master the English language well enough to communicate impresses me.We are still working on that over here in wild wonderful.Hainít no way we kin git it raight ennytime soon no how.Anyway, back to my bride.Over the past 30 years, Suís English has improved dramatically, of course itís speckled with Army vernacular including a few Drill Sergeant expressions she picked up from somewhere.She has declared to me, for example, ďIíll give you Eyes Right and slap you back to Ready Front.ĒSu is not a violent person, but Iíve been known to try her patience.She also occasionally puts a descriptive noun in front of the word head, to describe those she may be displeased with at the time (me mostly).Get your minds out of the gutter troops.I mean words like BONE or KNUCKLE.


Once, quite some time ago, around this time of year we were having a conversation that most of you will have or have had this year.It was about the coming new year and any improvements we were considering for ourselves.Su told me that she had a New Solution for the New Year.It took me a few minutes to realize that she meant New Yearís Resolution.Since that time, however, around our house New Year Resolutions became New Solutions.Actually it fits quite well when you think about it.When we make our resolutions arenít we actually picking a solution to something we see as a problem for ourselves?Makes perfect sense to me.


I think working hard at giving back makes an excellent New Solution.Have a great 2002!