[July 14, 2020] The best thing that ever happened during my military training was to experience immediate feedback on whatever I did. At the beginning of my career, I was first insulted, then shocked, and then mad that someone would tell me how wrong I was. Later, I changed. I came to welcome the clarity of instant feedback, something the typical leaders will not get.
I was born into the early 1950s segregated state of Arkansas, a place with a weak educational system, rampant poverty, and a church on every corner. It was the church and the many WWII and Korean War veterans that helped me develop my character and taught me about the meaning of God, Country, and Family. Since then, these three virtues guided my actions and were always there when trouble happened.
The most memorable part of growing up in a place that emphasizes traditional values, respect for others, individual responsibility and independence, and worthiness of every person, is that I got a quick response to anything I did or said. I also learned that those who not given feedback tended to go astray. This response was also a lesson from the Bible, one I have thought about for a long time.
“If you insulate people from paying the price of being wrong, you’re going to get a lot of wrong things done.” – Thomas Sowell1
Thomas Sowell hit upon something that’s been in the back of mind since growing up in the Deep South. As kids, we all got our backside whacked if we did something wrong; there was no waiting. When I joined the U.S. Army as an Infantry Officer, I met for the first time men who lacked this background. They were all pampered, often arrogant, deceitful, and jealous.
I also learned to suck it up and move on whenever I made a mistake. Initially, in training, these men made as many mistakes as I did, but instead of treating it as part of life and learning from it, they double-downed on the error and blamed others for their failure. As time went on, those with my background made fewer mistakes in training while the other men made more errors never seemed to improve their ability to judge right from wrong.
True, if you protect someone from paying the price of being wrong, that person is going to do more wrong in the future. I have found there is a compounding effect when it comes to such mistakes (and not getting feedback). Such people get off track, and their career becomes a bumpy road, they are less satisfied with life, and are more likely to get into trouble with the law.
- Original quote source: https://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2020/07/thomas-sowell-on-the-madness.php