[July 8, 2019] He surprised me. It was the end of our Basic Combat Training, and we were about to graduate as newly minted Privates in the U.S. Army. All of us had survived the crucible of two hard months of training and were friends. One Private from Cajun country in southern Louisiana asked me a surprising question; Doug, how do you made a good judgment?
I had been selected as one of the informal leaders of our platoon; the person who was allowed to approach a Drill Sergeant and ask a question for the unit. During our training, the Drill Sergeants had pointed out three or four Privates that had the makings of especially good soldiers. They said we had good judgment. Under pressure, they trusted us to make the right decisions.
“Next to good judgment, diamonds and pearls are the rarest things in the world.” – Jean de la Bruyère, French philosopher and moralist
Here are some indicators that tell us who can make a good judgment:
- Admits mistakes and learns from them.
- Seeks wisdom and advice.
- Has patience.
- Is consistent in applying logic.
- Makes decisions only when necessary.
- Doesn’t let emotions control decisions.
- Performs under stress.
You will find this informal leadership element in any organization. A title doesn’t mean much without the ability to be a leader. I was a basic Private (E-1); the lowest of the low and not even appointed as “acting” squad leader. But some said I had something they couldn’t identify or put into words. One Drill Sergeant said I had no fear to make a good decision. I was just happy he wasn’t yelling at me.