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1. Be Cautious of Labels. Labels you place on people may define your relationship to them and bound their potential. Sadly, and for a long time, we labeled Bill as just a janitor, but he was so much more. Therefore, be cautious of a leader who callously says, "Hey, he's just an Airman". Likewise, don't tolerate the O-1, who says, "I can't do that, I'm just a lieutenant.
2. Everyone Deserves Respect. Because we hung the "janitor" label on Mr. Crawford, we often wrongly treated him with less respect than others around us. He deserved much more, and not just because he was a Medal of Honor winner. Bill deserved respect because he was a janitor, walked among us, and was a part of our team.
3. Courtesy Makes a Difference. Be courteous to all around you, regardless of rank or position. Military customs, as well as common courtesies, help bond a team. When our daily words to Mr. Crawford turned from perfunctory "hellos" to heartfelt greetings, his demeanor and personality outwardly changed. It made a difference for all of us.
4. Take Time to Know Your People. Life in the military is hectic, but that's no excuse for not knowing the people you work for and with. For years a hero walked among us at the Academy and we never knew it. Who are the heroes that walk in your midst?
5. Anyone Can Be a Hero. Mr. Crawford certainly didn't fit anyone's standard definition of a hero. Moreover, he was just a private on the day he won his Medal. Don't sell your people short, for any one of them may be the hero who rises to the occasion when duty calls. On the other hand, it's easy to turn to your proven performers when the chips are down, but don't ignore the rest of the team. Today's rookie could and should be tomorrow's superstar.
6. Leaders Should Be Humble. Most modern day heroes and some leaders are anything but humble, especially if you calibrate your hero meter on today's athletic fields. End zone celebrations and self-aggrandizement are what we've come to expect from sports greats. Not Mr. Crawford-he was too busy working to celebrate his past heroics. Leaders would be well-served to do the same.
7. Life Won't Always Hand You What You Think You Deserve. We in the military work hard and, dang it, we deserve recognition, right? However, sometimes you just have to persevere, even when accolades don't come your way. Perhaps you weren't nominated for junior officer or airman of the quarter as you thought you should; don't let that stop you.
8. Don't pursue glory; pursue excellence. Private Bill Crawford didn't pursue glory; he did his duty and then swept floors for a living.
9. No job is beneath a Leader. If Bill Crawford, a Medal of Honor winner, could clean latrines and smile, is there a job beneath your dignity? Think about it. Pursue Excellence. No matter what task life hands you, do it well. Dr. Martin Luther King said, "If life makes you a street sweeper, be the best street sweeper you can be." Mr. Crawford modeled that philosophy and helped make our dormitory area a home.
10. Life is a Leadership Laboratory. All too often we look to some school or PME class to teach us about leadership when, in fact, life is a leadership laboratory. Those you meet everyday will teach you enduring lessons if you just take time to stop, look and listen. I spent four years at the Air Force Academy, took dozens of classes, read hundreds of books, and met thousands of great people. I gleaned leadership skills from all of them, but one of the people I remember most is Mr. Bill Crawford and the lessons he unknowingly taught. Don't miss your opportunity to learn.
1. Lead by example. 2. Your job is not done. There is always something more to do. 3. Check your equipment. Always make sure you have what you need for the mission before you begin. 4. Never say "Somebody has to do it." Don't sell yourself short. You're somebody. Just get it done. 5. Never cut corners. Do it the way the plans dictate. 6. Stick to your guns. Never waver or change your plan to suit someone else. 7. Don't open your mouth unless you're sure you are right. 8. Truth. Morals. Honor. God. 9. These are my rules, not yours. Get your own rules.
Colin Powell's 13 Rules of Leadership
1. It ain't as bad as you think. 2. Get mad, then get over it. 3. Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it. 4. It can be done. 5. Be careful what you choose. You may get it. 6. Don't let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision. 7. You can't make someone else's choices. 8. Check small things. 9. Share credit. 10. Remain calm. Be kind. 11. Have a vision. 12. Don't take counsel of your fears or naysayers. 13. Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.