[January 22, 2021] Many years ago, shortly after the tragic events of 9/11, when Muslim terrorists hijacked three commercial airliners, crashing them, and killing nearly 3,000 Americans, two of my soldiers said something that surprised me. The events of September 11, 2001, were fresh in our minds when these Soldiers said they wished they were on those airplanes.
Not only did this pique my curiosity at the time, but I got to ask a question everyone wanted to be answered. “Why would you wish you were on these hijacked airliners?” Then came the second surprise of the day. Both said that if they had been on any of these planes, maybe they could have helped save those on board.
“I can do it!” was these Soldiers’ motto. I know, they told me so. Give them a task, and they would do anything – legally, morally, and ethically right – to get it done. Another similar motto from my days working with Army Engineers was the saying “Essayons”1 (in French) or just simply, Let Us Try. “Get ‘er Done” is another.2
“The moral is to the physical as three is to one.” – Napoléon Bonaparte
The phrase, I Can Do It, is not about ego, bragging, or overconfidence. In my many decades of service in one of the most dangerous occupations, I have found that those who say this also can do what they think they can do. Typically these are very rugged, focused, masculine men. Little scares them, but they will step forward when called.
The first step to get something done is to convince yourself it can be done. Those who claim victim status or who are first to run and hide can never be satisfied with the world. They cannot be happy because they can never accomplish the impossible. Like my WWI Doughboy neighbor3 who “lost” his rifle at the Third Battle of the Aisne, het was able to pick up another because so many were lying around. Nothing would deter him.
I’ve said many times that combat brings out the bad in men and the good. Yet, a war for the men I’m writing about is not required to make them good. They are good men. They are the ones you want around you when things go sour on the battlefield or in corporate American. They are dependable, protective, loyal, and mentally and physically strong.
As I have pointed out before, a passage in the Bible is often mistaken. In Matthew 5:5, Jesus said that the “meek shall inherit the Earth.” The translation from Greek is a misinterpretation of a Biblical phrase. Meek refers to someone who is capable of force and decides not to use it unless needed.4
I take several lessons from these two Soldiers. First, masculinity works to help those in harm’s way. Second, it gives me hope that not all of the younger generation is swayed by the global narrative that “we are all one people and should get along.” Third, a positive attitude, willingness to take risks, and confidence are not lost in our society. These are good signs for the future.
- US Army. Engineer unit mottos (military-quotes.com)
- Leaders Get er Done | (theleadermaker.com)
- The Doughboy Next Door | (theleadermaker.com)
- A little more accurately, it refers to those who have swords and know to use them but are determined to keep them sheathed.
I can do it. What a better title for an article on leadership can there be. Great job on your website, Gen. Satterfield. Thanks for helping me become a better person and leader.
Well, folks, it is almost the weekend and we can have a little time off to think about much that has happened this week. I for one will be buying a rifle and ammo for personal protection. I was in the US Army way back in time so I know what I’m doing. But it’s time to teach my wife and kids how to shoot. See you guys on the rifle range.
Hi Andrew. Good for you. Me? I’m buying a handgun. Better buy NOW before Pres Biden starts banning all ammo, guns, and their magazines. He is all about making us safer … by destroying our freedoms.
I bought my pistol, a Barretta 9mm, in November after the senile Biden got elected. Good thing too because all the best pistols have been bought up. Go quick and now before Biden crushes the 2nd Amendment.
If I had a wish, I would wish that the new US Administration and our political representatives would immediately stop calling the US a racist country. There is no basis of fact that there is “systematic racism” here. They use the idea that there are different outcomes in race, like Blacks don’t perform as well in college. But what about Blacks performing better in professional sports? This is a weird argument that we should make preferences for any race. That is, wait for it .. RACISM.
Yep, but racism against “whites” (whatever that means today) is all okay. So, some racism is okay?
“The phrase, I Can Do It, is not about ego, bragging, or overconfidence.” I like the quote and will be using it at work this coming week. My boss will be interested in it.
I like the lessons you put forward, Gen. S.
1. Masculinity works to protect us all.
2. Our young are not all socialists.
3. The willingness to take risks is not lost.
Good summary and the most important part of the article. I would also add another lesson, #4. Adopting responsibility has a great payoff in the end.
Yep, well said. I think there are more lessons and we should all be looking for them and laying them out here in Gen. Satterfield’s forums. If not, much of what we write here is just gibberish and not worth reading.
Good point, Len. 😊
Plenty of lessons here and unfortunately it appears that a society must on occasion re-learn major lessons about human desires and motivations. We no longer teach this in school but rather teach “social justice” that is really just a warmed-over Marxist ideology replacing economic class with race class.
Good summary Jeremy. I hope there are more articles like this in the future. I recently found this website and hope to get a lot out of it and out of these forums where folks can openly discuss things logically and politely.
Excellent article. 👍
Good article. Yes, I would have also been surprised if someone had said that to me. It says that people think differently and have different, and yet reasonable, solutions to major problems of the day. Maybe their solution is better, more efficient and less costly. In this case it also shows bravery.
Tom, you are right. I appreciate the info. Maybe Gen. Satterfield will do one similar to senior leaders and let’s see if there is much difference.
Thinking differently is the ultimate in diversity. That is what America is about, not diversity of skin color like the new US PRes thinks or his stupid VP Harris.
Yep, go figure. People are not the same but we do share a lot and those things we share should be seen as important. Like family and friends. I think we all could agree on that.
I like the Napoleon Bonaparte quote. Thanks, Gen. Satterfield for another great article on the basics of human motivation.
Anytime there are quotes, I write them down in my log book (in the back) and eventually I managed to gain a greater appreciation of the world. Much smarter people than me have said things that are very important (I would have overlooked them). Keeping these quotes has made me better. I read them at least once a week before the start of the work week.
Martin, great idea. Maybe Gen. Satterfield could start a new tab with these quotes to make it easier for us to read.