Some Things I Would Do Differently

By | August 14, 2020

[August 14, 2020]   In 1987, Maj. Gen. Aubrey “Red” Newman published his best leadership book.  It is called “What Are Generals Made Of?”  It is, of course, highly recommended.  In it, Gen. Newman discusses several good points about senior leadership.  One, in particular, I took a liking to his book and what he would do differently to be a better leader.

Army Maj. Gen. Newman was best known for his World War II battle cry “Follow Me!”  It became the motto of an Infantry Division and an Army recruiting poster.1  He shouted the words while commanding a regiment leading Gen. MacArthur’s “return” to the Philippines on October 20, 1944, an amphibious assault on Leyte Island.  So much for his credentials.

Newman wrote that if he had it all to do over again, he would do some things differently.  What were they?  He spells out his answer in his book in Chapter 16, “But You Get Only One Chance.”  Here is what he said (summarized):

  1. To begin with, I would not drift into my military career but would strive to be a real professional, better than par. Looking back, my first ten years were an effort to do well those duties assigned, nothing more.  I made no effort to reach out.  I did try to do well, but that is not enough to be a true professional.
  2. I would be a self-motivated professional, seeking knowledge of the military past, broadening my understanding of the present, and studying the future. It does not work that way but interesting and professional fun.  By studying battles, I was hooked, inoculated with a gradually acquired desire to know more about my profession, over and above being just “a good soldier.”
  3. On a more mundane level, here are some things I would do differently if given another chance.
    • Next time I will report to any first duty station with a high-quality, three-hold looseleaf notebook. The idea is to simplify matters, not replace formal filing systems.
    • I would also concentrate on keeping my eye on the professional ball.
    • There would be time for extracurricular activities, too, for my observation of the best professionals confirmed them as well-balanced men.

Being a professional from the beginning would be a more worthwhile and rewarding career.  In this world’s life and order of things, we cannot start over.  However, these ideas of Gen. Newman can be used to help things work out for other junior leaders.


Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

20 thoughts on “Some Things I Would Do Differently

  1. Orange Man

    I’m new to this website folks. Been only reading it a few weeks and just noticed forums here are a good read also.

    1. Gil Johnson

      Welcome, Orange Man. Please feel free to post what you want but also be prepared for thoughtful responses. ??Everyone is welcome here.

  2. Eric Coda

    Newman was a contributor to Army Magazine for many years. His articles on common sense leadership were very popular and were later published in three books: Follow Me: The Human Element in Leadership, Follow Me II: More on the Human Element in Leadership, and Follow Me III: Lessons on the Art and Science of High Command. He also authored What Generals are Made Of. His books remain on the professional reading lists of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, the United States Marine Corps’ Commandant, and the reading lists of many other military and paramilitary organizations.

    1. Lynn Pitts

      This does say a lot about the man and his service to our nation. I would point out that while we are honoring him here, along with Gen. Satterfield writing about this man, we see our nation sliding downward into chaos that is supported by elite politicians who never served.

      1. Tomas C. Clooney

        Good list from Gen. Newman. More of this would be appreciated. It is always great to see how other great leaders “see” things and how they verbalize their ideas.

        1. Dale Paul Fox

          Yes and that is why I come to this leadership website to get a view of it myself. Thanks Tomas, good comment. I would only ask that Gen. Satterfield do more of these. It helps to give me another valuable perspective.

  3. Willie Shrumburger

    The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Aubrey S. Newman, Colonel (Infantry), U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while Commanding the 34th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, in action against enemy forces on 20 and on 30 October 1944, during the assault on Leyte, Philippine Islands. The DSC medal is the second highest honor a soldier can receive in combat. Gen. Newman was indeed both smart and brave.

    1. Kenny Foster

      Thanks Tony. I’ll read it. There are many articles, fortunately, that are also available for free.

  4. Otto Z. Zuckermann

    Thanks Gen. Satterfield. Keep these quality articles coming out way.

  5. Dennis Mathes

    Another spot-on article from the desk of Gen. Satterfield. We all appreciate being made aware of great leaders and if they have written something then we should take it upon ourselves to read it. When we start to think like those who were successful, we are more likely to be successful.

  6. Jerome Smith

    Just a quick comment. While Gen. Newman was a WWII vet (passed away a few years ago), he was very active in helping out our Vietnam Vets. See yesterday’s article by Gen. Satterfield on the disrespect of those Vietnam War vets. I would suggest that we go out of our way to thank them.

    1. Dead Pool Guy

      I do exactly that. While I was not old enough for Vietnam, I had many relatives who served then as well as now. When members of any society stand up to protect and defend, they should be honored.

    1. Georgie B.

      Yes, and I ordered an older copy of his book last week, can’t wait to read it. Looks like it is chocked full of nice leader tidbits.

    2. Harry Donner

      Good point Roger. There are a number of books and articles by Gen. Newman. I recommend them.

Comments are closed.