As we celebrate Memorial Day here in the US, I want to thank my dad for inspiring today’s post and for informing the message I’ve tried to pass on to my children and to the young people and business leaders I’ve worked with over the years.
Fiercely patriotic, I think my father always regretted that he missed World War II by a year. He joined the Marines right after high school in 1946 and spent two years on an aircraft carrier peacekeeping in the Mediterranean. This was an experience that shaped who he was. “Once a Marine, always a Marine,” was an oft-repeated phrase in our house. This was more than a saying; it was a way of life. To my father it was a way of life that he modeled for us that included lessons on responsibility and service.
“Do the right thing” was a consistent message from my father. We learned – sometimes the hard way – right from wrong. He made sure of it. It took a while to sink in but eventually it became clear to me that when we do the right thing, we act in service. It’s the only possibility. Responsibility and service go hand in hand. When we serve others we are being responsible and vice versa.
Whether you’re a parent, a business leader, or both, I think that embracing this lesson from my dad and making it your own will serve you well. We need more responsible people in our organizations, our schools, and our communities. Responsible people do the right thing even when no one is looking. Obedient people do so only with an external authority figure watching them. It is much better to teach responsibility than to expect obedience. The obedient follow; the responsible lead.
Thanks, Dad. And thanks to the many responsible men and women who served their country in uniform and made the ultimate sacrifice. We will try to be worthy of your service and sacrifice.
I’ll be on holiday next week. See you in two.