Your Personal Sensitivities are Irrelevant

By | September 12, 2019

[September 12, 2019]  The fastest and most effective way to progress as a leader is to be in a crucible under fire and have your performance critiqued.  Those who lead men and women in our military regularly review their team’s ability to accomplish a mission.  During a review, the leader will receive feedback in its brutally honest form and your personal sensitivities will be found to be irrelevant.

I’m sure we all remember the Disney Pinocchio story where the kind-hearted, woodcarver Geppetto created a wooden puppet named Pinocchio.  In the movie, the Blue Fairy told Geppetto that because he had “given so much happiness to others that you deserve to have your wish [for Pinocchio to become a real boy] to come true.”  But she also warned him of his lack of sternness, his whimsicalness, and lack of practicality.

What is so great about this story is that it shows us how even the best people do need others to help them see themselves.  Ideally, we will listen.  Preferably, this criticism is made in a manner that we acknowledge what we need; that we learn from what we are told and what we can do better next time.

The practicality of the military review process is that anyone can speak; from the highest rank to the lowest Private.  Everyone is encouraged to discuss their perspective and tell what went right and what went wrong because any worthwhile mission is complex and difficult, thus requiring an understanding at multiple levels of experience and analysis.

The analysis that takes place, whether it is for Geppetto or as part of the U.S. military is that thoughtful feedback is a necessary condition for us to advance.  It is based upon an old idea that learning takes us away from our comfort zones and thrusts us into a new world; a place we may fear the chaos and not want to go.

Like all military leaders, I’ve received my share of criticism for mistakes.  That is part of the military’s formal After Action Review, but it could have been in a bar drinking a beer or at a cookout with my team.  The setting is not relevant.  But the thought that your sensitive nature will somehow protect you is a foreign idea that deserves the dustbin of human history.

In the Disney story, Pinocchio went missing.  Geppetto wasted no time in searching the village and beyond.  The search took him through dark streets, rainstorms, and to the deadly whale Monstro.  Geppetto was relentless in ensuring his son was safe.  When they reunited and Geppetto learned of Pinocchio’s mishaps, he made no effort to reprimand his remorseful son.

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

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

33 thoughts on “Your Personal Sensitivities are Irrelevant

  1. Autistic Techie

    I was away, out of country for a few weeks but now I’m back. I missed coming into the forum each day. Great article as my first read while back. Thank you Gen. Satterfield.

  2. Delf "Jelly" Bryce

    Thoughtful and provocative. I’m glad he brought in the timeless story of Pinocchio.

  3. Shawn C. Stolarz

    Another article that is right on target with the point that our ‘feelings’ are not relevant to the big scheme of things. As my mother used to say, “get over yourself.”

    1. Scotty Bush

      I’ll bet there are no ‘snowflakes’ from college on this blog.

  4. Xerxes I

    Excellent! I only wish people would understand this idea. If you want to be successful, you cannot be overly sensitive.

  5. Karl J.

    Yes! Gen Satterfield you are once again correct in your ideas that we are taught to be good people and that teaching is hard on us. The world is tough and so must be the training to integrate us into it.

    1. Jerome Smith

      That is what makes for great leaders. They are the ones not afraid to do good things, help others, and have a vision that can pull people together.

  6. Tracey Brockman

    Thanks for another great article. I’m sitting here with my dog and my favorite cup of coffee enjoying the morning before heading out to work. Your daily dose of leadership is what helps get me going in the morning. Since I do my best early in the day, I start out efficiently getting things done. I’ve developed some good habits (see your articles on this) and those I work with are always amazed. I don’t lie to myself or others. I work hard and do my job. Then I can go home with a clear conscious that I did my best and made the world a slightly better place.

    1. Dennis Mathes

      That is the way it should be for all of us, Tracey. Too bad so many people are not taught this.

  7. The Kid 1945

    College these days is just a breeding ground for moral justice warriors. They have a rude awakening coming. I’ve had them hired into the company I work and many didn’t last two months before quitting. I have zero sympathy for them.

    1. Gil Johnson

      Good to know that someone is seeing the end-result of what happens when you are indoctrinated and not technically trained and taught to think critically in college.

  8. Otto Z. Zuckermann

    The importance to understand that our sensitivities are irrelevant also reflects in the idea that we are not of great import unless we first get ourselves together (socially, mentally, famililially, and religiously). Anything else where we try to “improve” the world is a joke. That is what the snowflakes from college are trying to do and failing at every level.

  9. Georgie B.

    One of my favorite movies from childhood is PINOCCHIO. The movie has many great parts to it. The reason that it resonates is that it plays upon a common human theme of the hero coming to the rescue. Read the Bible and you will find many stories like this. The Bible, by the way, is greatly undervalued for its lessons in life.

    1. Doug Smith

      I agree with you Georgie. The Bible has stories that we can remember because they are human stories that are repeated over thousands of years. We all need to not just read the Bible but also study it, if we plan to gain anything from it.

    2. Crazy Dude

      Point well taken. All great movies are based on old human stories.

    3. Yusaf from Texas

      Some well-made points in the comments today. I’m glad I decided to open my computer this morning.

  10. Albert Ayer

    Gen. Satterfield, thank you for another on-target blog posting. This is why I come to your website every single day. I also share many of your articles with my co-workers and friends; at least those who show promise. Keep up the great work you are doing here.

  11. Dale Paul Fox

    I remember with great clarity what my USMC Drill Instructor yelled at me when I first entered the Corps. He yelled “Maggot, I don’t give a shit about you. So get your ass in line.” Now for a young man that can be shocking but nothing compared to combat. The DIs were trying to toughen us up.

    1. Shawn C. Stolarz

      Great story. The US military recognizes that nearly all young men and women who plan on entering the service are weak physically and mentally lethargic. We need to do something about it and they have a plan. 😊

  12. Ronny Fisher

    Here is another message to the snowflake-generation, WORK is not easy, it means you have to do something and the first thing is to stop LYING to yourself that you are god’s gift to the world. We don’t care about you unless you change your ways and begin to make a contribution to the rest of society by making yourself better.

    1. Greg Heyman

      Right on target Ronny. Today, many people from all walks of life are quick to believe they are morally superior to the rest of us. Stalin and Hitler thought the same way and look how it turned out.

    2. Watson Bell

      Quotable quote, “WORK is not easy.” You are spot-on with that comment. I guess that is why they call it work. Ha Ha.

      1. Bill Sanders, Jr.

        Hi Watson. I’ve not heard from you in a long time. Hope all is well with you. Good to have you back!

  13. Eva Easterbrook

    Great stuff here. Our ‘snowflake’ college students should take notice. Message: “Your feelings (i.e., sensitivities) are irrelevant.” You as a student are irrelevant too if you don’t buck up and get your act together.

  14. Army Captain

    Exceptional article. I liked the way you tied in the famous Disney movie, Pinocchio.

    1. JT Patterson

      I agree, Army Captain. I’m not one of the original fans of this blog but I’ve stuck to it ever since I stumbled upon it in a Google search. You and the others help make this one of my favorite “go to” sites on the Internet.

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