Saturday, August 27, 2011

Words of wisdom

If our bright young officers don't bring new ideas to us because we don’t ask for them, I think that that reveals a command structure that doesn’t accept failure and is not eager to learn from its mistakes, which I think is a huge shortcoming of our Navy system. Failure is not bad. Not learning from the failure is bad, but failure is not bad.

A bright young Flag officer


Anonymous said...

New ideas? OPNAV Staff? Oxymoron!!

Anonymous said...

Captain Lambert,

I am unsure that the originator of the words in this post is a bright young Flag Officer. How could he possibly write one sentence with a quadruple negative, another with a double negative.

Very Respectfully,

Steve said...

I would suggest a different take on this topic, and offer instead of a (more or less) gentle handling of failure, to put it in terms immediately taken aboard by ALCON: "Come back with your shields - or on them."
Such stern advice, given allegedly by Spartan mothers to their sons before battle sets an unmistakable border between success and failure; and, if the tale is true, sets a powerful tenor as to the profundity of the meaning of failure, itself.
Any of us who have failed selection to the next grade (this writer included) or those RIFed or SERBed will spend a lot of psychic energy to find out "why?" Somewhere, something in the answer will be reducible to comparative performance, measurable achievment, or another more-or-less measurably-reducible issue. Answers may be found, if the seeker is willing to deal with him/herself as do the Spartan mothers their sons.
Failure is a bitter cup proffered, and reclamation is not an easy climb back to the high road. It is a tattoo-reminder but not a permanent scar; and removal takes time and effort.
...and, perhaps, frustration - and some pain.
But it can be done, and then it no longer is failure.

Steve Myers

Anonymous said...

Mr. Steve Myers

Those Spartan Mothers were (allegedly) renowned for their attitudes, and the Spartans were great Warriors. Unfortunately the Spartans grew to be Greeks and many changed to follow alternate life styles. Was this failure? Who can judge that? It certainly appears that history is repeating its self.


Steve said...

I rise to the lure because it is shiny (see the moms who admonished sons to be brave - or to regret not heeding the instruction), but also because ADM Rickover did not tolerate poor performance - unless it could be defended to his satisfaction. He, too, understood swords and shields. As far as history redux, One of the laws of thermodynamics (#2, maybe?) talks to entropy of the uiverse and a connection between it anda constant shift in things from order to chaos. If this bears even the slightest relation to your excellent observation - then failure HAS to be both good and bad -- because the Universe doesnt give a damn about the concept.
But we do, because no one wants to disappoint Mom....

Standing by for heavy rolls as the ship comes about, I remain
Steve, USN (ret.)

Anonymous said...


It was my privilege during a career in the Navy to have been exposed to the quirks of Admiral Rickover and if you will search for the Admiral on this blog, you will see that I have responded to a number of things that he did during the time I served. I had never associated the Admiral, or Spartan mothers, with any of the laws of thermodynamics but it has been found that a corollary existed in the relationship of the two subjects with Newton’s Laws of motion. Newton’s First Law of Motion has been deemed appropriate because no external force ever exceeded the force of mothers or the Admirals motion.
The good Admiral had an in depth understanding of ships operational control of a Submarine and he knew that those forward end Sailors were driving his power plant so it was in his own best interest to humor and encourage those souls who steered his power plant around the globe. He treated those non-nuc Chiefs very well, I never heard him say that failure was not an option but an aura of that feeling was always about him.
I know failure and appreciate it, and I think someone must care besides Mom.
Have you ever heard that 1MC say - rig ship for 90 foot seas?

Very Respectfully,