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Three Meter Zone | JD's Bunker | Poetry | Chapel | American Journal

How Well Are You Running?

J. D. Pendry

"Do you know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it." - 1 Corinthians 9-24

I remember when the three-event physical fitness test of push-ups, sit-ups and a two-mile run was a dreaded occurrence for many every six months. The two-mile run was usually a telling event. Some runners, trying to get out front and finish first, always started out real fast. By midway many of them usually slowed and some even started to walk. Others, more prepared and in tune with their abilities, picked up the pace as the quick starters slowed. That's when it became a test of not how fast you could run, but how well you could run. More exactly, how well you were prepared to run.

Life, personal and professional, is like the physical fitness test run. Have you ever been so focused on the prize - being first or on top - that you didn't prepare for the whole race? Look at it like this, have you ever been so busy driving that you forgot to stop and get gas?

We've all known fast movers who were propelled into positions they couldn't handle well for lack of one skill or another? In recent years we've seen careers of prominent leaders end because of lapses in judgement. Lapses in judgement that occurred because of poor preparation along the way. These widely publicized instances of poor judgment prompted the Army to question the character training and development of us all. We re-energized our values and put more emphasis on human relations in initial entry training. As we do too often, we reacted. We straightened out everyone because of the poor choices made by a few who failed to prepare themselves for the eventuality of leadership.

We have to focus on more than just flaws in moral character, however. Ask yourself a few questions. How many times in a professional development course (even at the most senior level) have you encountered a leader who could not read, write, or communicate orally at an acceptable level? Within your three-meter zone, how many noncommissioned officers are there who can't properly lead a session of physical fitness training? Conduct drill and ceremonies at the appropriate level? Teach basic soldier skills? Teach basic rifle marksmanship or safely run a small arms range? Conduct an inspection? Properly counsel a soldier without the use of a checklist on an automated form? I don't want to belabor the point, but most of us can visualize individuals when we ask each of these questions. We may also see ourselves.

Our Army is at a point where it can't rely on leaders who haven't acquired and maintained the basic and necessary skills along the way. How well our Army runs in the future will depend on NCOs taking the time to stop for gas - even if it's a forced stop. When tested again, we need to be prepared to run well because there may not be time to react to another leadership failure. So, how well are you running?

© J. D. Pendry