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Vice Admiral Peter V. Neffenger Vice Commandant – Lesson: The Value of Mentoring

Vice Admiral Peter V. Neffenger Vice Commandant – Lesson: The Value of Mentoring

Vice Admiral Peter V. Neffenger (Ret.) Vice Commandant, U. S. Coast Guard

neffenger

Vice Admiral Peter V. Neffenger, Vice Commandant of the U. S. Coast Guard

The Value of Mentoring: Your greatest contribution to your service will be those you have inspired and positively influenced.

When I think of engaging across all levels of the service, I think of the power of effective mentoring. Why is mentoring a critical element of engaging? Although mentors can fill any number of roles, they all have one thing in common – mentors help you achieve your potential and discover your greatest strengths. 

There are different kinds of mentoring relationships. Some will be narrowly focused to guide you through a specific event, while others may broaden over time. Regardless, mentoring is not accidental. It is deliberate. 

Effective mentoring happens at every level in an organization. Whether you are in search of a mentor or actively engaged in mentoring, effective mentoring is more than a check in the box. It is a two-way relationship and a learning experience for both individuals.  

Think about why you serve and how you engage with those who follow you. Your greatest contribution to your service will be those you’ve inspired and positively influenced along the way. Engaging means taking action. Find a mentor. Be a mentor.

Vice Admiral Scott Swift, Director, U. S. Navy Staff – Lesson: The Value of Diversity

Vice Admiral Scott Swift, Director, U. S. Navy Staff – Lesson: The Value of Diversity

Vice Admiral Scott Swift, Director, U. S. Navy Staff

swiftVice Admiral Scott Swift, Director, U. S. Navy Staff

The Value of Diversity: I am heartened by the way we as a service have embraced diversity.  I can only speak from my own experiences but in the thirty plus years I have served, diversity has continued to grow in recognition as critical to our success as a Navy.  

Common descriptors used to capture the value of diversity to the Navy flow along the lines of, ‘Our construct needs to be reflective of the society we serve.’  ‘Our core values are strengthened by embracing the value all individuals bring to Honor, Courage, and Commitment.’  ‘The fact that advancement and career success in the Navy are based on performance is reflective of organizational

recognition that diversity is a strength we act on.’ These elements of self-talk

reflect the value we place on diversity and that others outside our lifelines recognize as one of our foundational strengths; they are something to be admired.  We should be proud of this organizational strength embedded in our Navy ethos.

However, I am not sure if we have this as right as we could.  When I discuss diversity I often begin with a question:  “When I mention diversity what do you think as a Sailor?”  Almost invariably the response is centered, as one would expect, on the experiences of the individual.  Sometimes it is gender centric, or is based on race, religion, or ethnicity.  It could be centered on a particular warfare community.  The diverse nature of our thinking is a strength in and of itself, which takes me to what I think is the true core strength of diversity – the diversity of our thinking – and more to the point, the diversity of our ideas.

Any organization has a higher probability of success if it is willing to embrace change.  Not change for the sake of change, but well thought-out change based on the robust exchange of ideas… ideas focused on advancing the positive evolution of the organization.  While a difficult task, especially for those of us in the military, most of which are not willing to venture far from our comfort zone, it is a task made easier by surrounding ourselves with individuals that think differently than we do.  So how do you go about finding such individuals?

Seek people with different life experiences than yours.  If you surround yourself with individuals whose life experiences replicate yours, you will see problems the same way, but, unfortunately, solutions the same way as well.  This becomes group-think at its worst, manifested when those solutions are applied with no dissent and no concern as to probability of success; just a blind assumption that based on common views and vision, success is assured.  When success is not delivered, rarely is the thought process questioned… because surely the entire group couldn’t be wrong!  So how do we avoid this pitfall?

There are visual tippers to diversity of experience.  We call them gender, race, religion, ethnicity and so on.  Wouldn’t I be better served, as an aviator, with a SWO as my Aide, or a Submariner?  Someone to challenge my belief system before it is applied in the form of a solution?  Or someone who I know has had different life experiences, looks at problems differently than I do, and so adds to our ability to develop much more diverse and resilient solutions sets?

This is the power of diversity:  “The diversity of ideas.”  To make the diversity of ideas work we need to create an environment that embraces and empowers differing viewpoints… which is a subject for another discussion….

Honorable Dr. Clifford L. Stanley – Lesson: Commitment to Serving Others

Honorable Dr. Clifford L. Stanley – Lesson: Commitment to Serving Others

Honorable Dr. Clifford L. Stanley

stanleyHonorable Dr. Clifford L. Stanley, former Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness and Major General, United States Marine Corps (Retired)

My Commitment to Serving Others  

The honor of serving, and the sheer joy of nurturing the talents of others, has been an absolute joy for me from day-one.  My service as an officer in the Marine Corps was never about me, the rank I achieved, adulation or recognition from others.  

It was always about caring deeply for the welfare of my fellow man, which of course included our women, and serving them with

every ounce of my ability. With humility, I have always recognized my limitations and have always strived to view others as more important than I am.

When I repeated the oath of office in April 1969, prior to beginning my officer training in Quantico, Virginia, the final words of that oath resonated with me then, just as those words resonate with me today.  Those words: “So help me God.”  Need I say more? 

Semper Fidelis!

Lieutenant General Robert B. Neller – Lesson: The Privilege to SERVE

Lieutenant General Robert B. Neller – Lesson: The Privilege to SERVE

General Robert B. Neller, United States Marine Forces Command

General Chapman often told a story about traveling through an air terminal and spotting a Marine Corporal (in uniform) inspection ready.  When the General spoke to the Corporal he asked why the Corporal was so squared away and his fellow travelers were disheveled and sloppy? The young Marine simply stated “The Marines don’t do that.”  As Sea Service Leaders, the ethos should be the same:

-Leaders eat last.

-Consider Command a privilege to serve.4621986662_470x314

-If you don’t know the answer, find someone that does.

-When in doubt, seek solutions that are Easy, Smart, and Cheap.

-If you are in charge, emulate the leaders you admire; be THIS, not that!

-Be mindful that solutions are often easy to figure out, but hard to execute.

-Above all, take care of each other.

Semper Fidelis,
General Robert B. Neller
Commander, United States Marine Forces Command