We Have to be More than We Are

By | February 25, 2020

[February 25, 2020]  I’m reminded of a Reebok tennis shoe commercial from a few years ago. Back in early 2015, Reebok introduced a new campaign to compete with Nike and other large brands.  Their “be more human” message is referring to Reebok’s attempt to urge consumers to live up to their full potential.  I like what their message because it resonates with an essential human idea that we must be more than we are.

When I was a small kid going to school, starting with First Grade, I was both scared and happy.  Scared because school was new, and I lacked confidence.  Happy, because I thought I was smarter and stronger than the other kids (I wasn’t).  It took me into my early twenties before I realized that there was a danger in the hubris of the intellect; the danger toward pride and arrogance.  It took me reading Paradise Lost and the story of Lucifer in John Milton’s 17th-century poem to understand it better.

“Aspire not to have more, but to be more.” –  Óscar Romero, prelate of the Catholic Church in El Salvador

I started to understand that there was more to life than the intellect and physical prowess.  I was trying to figure out why the world was so crazy at the time (the Cold War) in the early to mid-1970s.  I was also fiercely struggling with my Engineering college degree since I’d not learned to study well or devote the requisite time to academics that had come so easily to that point.

In 1974, I joined the U.S. Army as a Private (the lowest rank possible).  The Army is where I met Sergeant Bryant.  As a side note, I introduced Drill Sergeant Bryant to my readers earlier in 2017 with an article titled “What is Fair? The Military Way.1  This introduction of Bryant was to help make the point that it takes more than pure intellect and strength to be a good person, to be satisfied with your life, and to be someone others look up to as credible.  Don’t get me wrong, I hated Sergeant Bryant intensely, but he showed us how to be real soldiers.

For me, the Army was an introduction to humility.  The military experience showed me that there was an element of the humanness that transcended the intellect.  It also taught me that I was a novice in understanding people and also poorly adapted to use human-made tools (weapons, armored vehicles, and such).  Most importantly, I learned that I could be more than I thought I could be.

I learned in the military that my “potential” as a soldier was more than I could imagine it to be and that I had to be more.  This philosophy has driven my life more than anything else; that I can improve my future self and do so consciously.  Joining the Army was a way that allowed me to meet reality and to understand human nature and what it is like to be a good person.

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  1. https://www.theleadermaker.com/fair-military-way/
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.

26 thoughts on “We Have to be More than We Are

  1. Autistic Techie

    Good article on an important topic. Thx, Gen Satterfield.

  2. Valkerie

    General Satterfield, another worthy article. Thanks, sir!

  3. Gil Johnson

    I never was in the Army or any military service although I now regret it. But I do have an uncle and cousin who were in the US Navy and Marines. They are great folks and I’m proud to have them as relatives. They are the kind of men anyone would like to go out and have a beer with. The reason is they have humility just like Gen. Satterfield has noted here. Great job with this series of articles. Oh, welcome back Gen. Satterfield.

    1. Joe Omerrod

      Gil, please thank them for their service. And I too agree with you and Gen. Satterfield that humility defines the average military man or woman. Without this ‘good’ attitude, we would not appreciate what they do as much.

  4. Bill Sanders, Jr.

    “We have to be more than we are.” What a great title. Another old US Army slogan was “be all you can be.” But – and this is a big but – you don’t always know what you can be. That is the crux of the argument for mentors, teachers, and coaches.

    1. Nick Lighthouse

      I agree this is one of those articles you have to sit back and think about it. Then, reread it again a couple of times to get the full meaning.

      1. Kenny Foster

        Many of these leadership blog posts are like that …. you have to read them maybe a couple of times to get the full meaning. Thanks everyone who made comments today. Great info.

    2. Lynn Pitts

      Great article and I will say thanks to those who have commented so far.

  5. The Kid 1945

    Hi guys, all is well in New York City these days. Harvey Weinstein was convicted yesterday in a NYC court of several counts of rape and sexual abuse. Not sure what the exact charges were but justice is done.

    1. Jonnie the Bart

      Maybe and maybe not, The Kid. I think most of those women were willing to give up sex to get favors from Weinstein. Some were not and that is what the prosecution’s case was based upon.

    2. Doc Blackshear

      What is just, what is right, and what is prosecutable? That is the real set of questions that must be answered.

      1. Eric Coda

        He is a pig. But I also think the women were using him too. Mutual destruction.

  6. Yusaf from Texas

    Yeah, I’m no big fan of Reebok shoes because the quality is sometimes lacking. But Nike is the worst shoe manufacturer. I hate Nike and will never buy anything from them again. And I’m not just talking about shoes. Nike quality is very poor. Avoid them when possible.

    1. Tom Bushmaster

      Hey Yusaf, you are spot-on with that comment. Nike is a terrible company, unless you are a radical leftist.

  7. apache2

    Personally, I don’t like Reebok shoes but their advertisements have been very good over the years.

  8. Wendy Holmes

    Just another problem with our school systems. I don’t think there should be mandatory schooling above the middle-school level. As long as you learn to read, do math, and how to write, that’s good enough. Once complete, you should be allowed to enter the workforce and do what you want.

    1. Lady Hawk

      You got that right. And, since only those interested and smarter will go to High School, then the competition is higher and the standards must be increased. Thus, a motivation to study.

  9. Randy Goodman

    Gen. Satterfield, you must have been just like me and so many others. High School was no challenge since teachers teach to the lowest common denominator. So anyone with an IQ above 80 will do well. The problem is that makes us lazy and gives us an unclear idea of how the real world is.

    1. Jane Fillmore

      Just another problem with our school systems. I don’t think there should be mandatory schooling above the middle-school level. As long as you learn to read, do math, and how to write, that’s good enough. Once complete, you should be allowed to enter the workforce and do what you want.

  10. Ronny Fisher

    Really good story for me to absorb into my brain. I think that you joining the army was a both a major step in your life and, of course, one that work the best for you. Well done. I too joined the US military a couple of decades ago and learned that some of those things we are told are important are actually not important. Life and your health, and your family are those things most important.

    1. Harry Donner

      Right, and the way we look, the clothes we wear, our house and car, etc. are not so important. Plus, as they say, “you can’t take it with you.”

    2. Albert Ayer

      Good point. I believe that there are major points in our life that stand out. Your’s was the US army. Mine was joining the Peace Corps. I went to Africa and learned firsthand that most of those who live there are always looking for a handout and as long as leaders in the West and in Africa continue to push this agenda, then there will always be great poverty and death there.

      1. Roger Yellowmule

        Loved your article and I agree with the prior comments.

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