I just finished reading Fearless: The Undaunted Courage and Ultimate Sacrifice of Navy SEAL Team SIX Operator Adam Brown. If you ever want to be inspired by someone who pushed the limits, read this book.
Adam Brown was a kid from Arkansas who played football in high school but was a little lost after graduation. He started a relationship with the wrong girl and she turned him on to drugs. He eventually became a crack addict. His parents applied the toughest of love, and called the police to have him arrested for a felony. After jail, he found God, the woman of his dreams and a friend’s father to vouch for him so he could enlist in the Navy. He then became a SEAL. During training a sim round grazed his eye, rendering it blind. Adam taught himself to shoot off-hand, completing the NSW sniper school left-handed. A Humvee accident shattered his shooting hand and so he trained himself to complete CQB also with his left hand. He was selected for Green Team and with only one eye and his non-dominant hand, completed the course and joined DevGru.
If that doesn’t inspire you, I don’t know what will. Instead of care packages, Adam asked his wife to send him shoes and socks which he handed out to Afghan children; over 500 pairs with the help of their church community. Some of the other stories from Adam’s life are just as incredible. It was uplifting just to read them.
The reason we know all of this is that he specifically asked that his story, including the bad parts, be told so that people know that you can turn your life around with the help of God. Some of this was detailed in his CACO order. I never even knew this existed, but soldiers actually write down how to plan for their deaths, should the worst happen. A Casualty Assistance Calls Officer is named, the person who delivers the news to your family. Every soldier I have known or spoken with, always refers to their duty as “doing their job” or “going to work”. Imagine what it is like going to battle and thinking of it as just another day at the office. I still haven’t even written my will.
Adam wrote several letters to his family in a journal his wife asked him to take to Iraq/Afghanistan. Two entries got me to thinking about some things. The first was after the Abu Ghraib prison incident when Adam worked as an interogator in another facility.
I want you to know, as you read history and opinions in school about 2004, that going to this war was right…We are harder than anyone at these detention centers and let me tell you, we treat these guys with the utmost professionalism…I fight for people’s freedoms, not to take [them] away…As a Christian, one assumes great compassion…This is the American soldier…If your mom and I ever teach you anything, I pray it is at least to show all people courtesy and respect. The truly courageous and powerful never have to prove it. It is always shown in their actions.
While serving in Afghanistan…
From everything I’ve read, seeing these kids, including girls, playing, tells me we are doing right here. I have not gotten a single sour face from any of the locals, and I don’t see fear in their eyes. I’m sure I will learn more over time…but we have restored their dignity, and their lives …the Taliban had taken that away. Kids, I am proud to be here doing what we are doing.
Today at work I spent the day trying to explain how to operate a computer system I designed to a group of users and operators. I then spent a few hours trying to figure out how to make a certain financial model roughly 1% more accurate. We actually have HR people that work to find ways that our jobs can be more rewarding. When I think about what Adam did, and what I do, I can’t help but recognize the simple truth that there really isn’t much that can be done to make me proud of my job. And yet they try. And they spend a good chunk of money on it.
But what amazes me is this reality: We are all shareholders in the corporation America.gov We continue to vote for an executive team hell bent on bankrupting our investment. But no matter how awful they are at their jobs, they somehow manage to hire, train and employ the single greatest team at the subsidiary Defense.mil These professionals perform at an extraordinary capacity, despite working for a group of incompetent blowhards. The worst part in all of this, is that half of the shareholders directly disapprove of the work their company does so well. Imagine going to work everyday and being told that what you do is not worth your time, effort, passion and commitment. How much would that suck.
The US Military defends freedom and protects Americans. They do that so well that we have been able to expand our scope and branch out into other markets. We are the number one in our market, with a commanding market share. When you are that successful, shareholders should recognize the value of their investment. If they can’t, then sell. Go find another investment. The men and women of the armed forces deserve to realize the satisfaction of a job well done without being told by their supervisors that their work is unimportant. What Adam taught me, is that service to your country is not a ‘duty’. It may be your calling, it may be what you are passionate about, it might even feel good to do that work every day, to see the value of your contribution. If you feel that passion, no one, no matter what their job, deserves to have that spirit squashed. This shareholder says thank you for contributions, keep doing what you do.