Your Feelings Don’t Matter

By | February 16, 2021

[February 16, 2021]   You hear this a lot in the U.S. military.  On my first day at boot camp, the Drill Sergeants had us running around the barracks, carrying our footlockers and screaming as loud as possible, “My feelings don’t matter.”  They were about to teach us something important and that that sometimes your feelings don’t matter.

Of course, I look back on that time in Basic Training with some trepidation.  Would I want to go through this primeval-like initiation into the U.S. Army again, nope!  But, I’m glad I did.  I think all of us would admit that basic was the hardest thing we had ever done, up to that point in our lives.  Many in my class of recruits cracked under the mental pressure.  They were taken away to never return.

Technically speaking, your feelings do matter … but only a little.  Feelings can be a motivator and in that respect, yes, feelings do matter.  Just like our opinions, Army NCOs that train recruits don’t care about recruits’ opinions, feelings, prior girlfriends, or where they came from.  To the Drill Sergeants, we were ‘army green’ and they showed us how to be a soldier.

It’s tough. 

Learning this lesson – that your feelings don’t matter – is, at first, difficult to accept.  We’ve all been taught that our feelings are important.  Our moms were wonderful and we love our moms.  As an adult, we can still love our moms and family but we should also learn that our feelings can and will eventually work against our success in the workplace.

Drill Sergeants have a way with words that hit home for many of us recruits.  The young man standing next to me one day asked about getting a little time to “collect himself.”  Standing there was the meanest looking man I’d ever seen.  He scared the living daylights out of me.  Drill Sergeant Bryant, one tough SOB, just stared at the man and said, “Recruit!  Fill out a Hurt Feelings Report.”  And, then the clincher, “Ladies, time for a five-mile run in full combat gear.”

Take that hill.

Our first squad-level exercise was about to happen and we were to be graded on our ability to take a hill away from the “enemy.”  Basic Training was good for us.  It taught us to be tough, detailed-oriented, and single-minded in getting our mission accomplished.  At Fort Polk, it was Hill 937 (named after the infamous Battle of Hamburger Hill in the Vietnam War).

That day did not go well.  Our “attack” to take Hill 937 was late starting and not synchronized with an adjacent squad.  We miserably failed the exercise but what happened after was something to remember.  Drill Sergeant Bryant was in rare form.  I’ll just leave it there for your imagination.  At the end of basic, my arm muscles were much stronger for doing thousands of punishment pushups.

Do your feelings matter?

No, your feelings don’t matter at all; at least not to all the adults in the room.

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.

19 thoughts on “Your Feelings Don’t Matter

  1. Army Vet

    I agree completely with Gen. Satterfield. Too many leaders “kick the can down the road” because 1) it’s easier than dealing with day to day problems and 2) they are rewarded for their laziness by the stupid people who would have been kicked to the curb themselves due to their laziness in ineptitude.

  2. Jerome Smith

    Now this is a real topic to explore. Actually feelings do matter and they matter a great deal. What Gen. Satterfield is saying here, IMHO, is that many jobs/careers require you to put your emotions away because those very emotions can damage your prospect of accomplishing the mission. In war, for example, fear can make you run away from battle and leave your comrades alone to fight. This is counterproductive. Thus, your feelings don’t matter (or should not get in the way of the mission).

    1. corralesdon

      Good points, Jerome. For those who have been in such situations, I can understand this line of thinking. Don’t let your ‘feelings’ impede your progress.

  3. Frank Graham

    Gen. Satterfield, as I recall, you’ve written about Sgt Bryant before. He surely made an impression upon you. Too bad you could not follow thru with us so we could know whatever happened to him. Didn’t stay in touch? Yes, I would expect so. Many of us just want to let go of an experience that is not all that pleasant. I too had to do many many punishment exercises in the military. That is their way of getting our attention.

    1. Roger Walther

      Yeah, Sgt Bryant must have been some real a$$ hole but a great DS too. You were fortunate to have been in his training unit.

  4. Karl J.

    “Take that hill.” Don’t you just love this website. Maybe an article with this as the title. The point would be to show how hard work, focus, and good leadership can get things done.

  5. Army Captain

    Good thing you had practice with pushups. Takes me back to my initial training in the US Infantry as well.

    1. Max Foster

      Yes, I’m sure it does. Gen. Satterfield uses his time in the army as a way to tell stories that we can remember and thus can remember his points. The idea today that your feelings “don’t matter” is a bit exaggerated but still on point. The fact that we all allow our feelings to get in the way of our performance at work and in the way of successful relationships is a long running problem with us humans. Both men and women have a hard time of it. But that, of course, is what helps make us who we are. We would be weak and lazy without obstacles to overcome.

  6. Eric Coda

    Yes, a great article by Gen. S. for setting the record straight. We kowtow to the mentally immature all the time. Time to stop doing so and get our country back.

  7. Jeff Blackwater

    Gen. Satterfield, once again, you’ve done it with this blog post. Correct, your teensy weensy feelings don’t matter one smidgeon. The little snowflakes that room around pretending to be adults will never understand today’s post.

    1. Harold M. Smith II

      Soooo right, Jeff. Makes me want to go kick some butt. Our country is being run by a dementia patient, dressed in an empty suit. China Joe will go down in history as the worst president in US history. And, his no-nothing VP, what’s her name?, will do nothing ever because she is all talk. Remember she got where she is by handing out sexual favors. And, they say women are equal to men! Yeah, right.

      1. Tom Bushmaster

        Ouch, tell us what you think of VP KAMALA Harris. Pssstt, that pan was hot hot hot.

      2. Wendy Holmes

        Great comment, Harold. And, I agree with Jeff that – to us an old phrase – the patients are running the asylum.

        1. Rev. Michael Cain

          Yes, I’m afraid so. Just take a look at our universities today. They are overrun by 1960s hippie radicals that never had a real job or had to do anything difficult outside an airconditioned and heated classroom. I don’t think “working” a 6 hour work week is too hard.

    2. Wilson Cox

      Jeff, you are a funny guy. Of course, i have to agree as well. Too much is placed on “feelings” and not enough on toughening us up to make us adults rather than long-standing children (adult children make me sick).

  8. Darwin Lippe

    Ha Ha Ha Ha…… I love this article!!!
    All thumbs up.

    1. rjsmithers

      Yeah, me too. Thanks Darwin. Occasionally, Gen. Satterfield hits one out of the park and this is one of those articles. More like this, please Gen. Satterfield.


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