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life long learning

Baby Boomers do life long learning out of habit. What’s your excuse?

Yes, I’m certified for leadership.

At least that’s what the Fort Ord Leadership Academy says.

What does a 21 Hour Leader Preparation Program do?

In the wrong hands it turns a decent person into a tyrant.

In the right hands it makes for a good listener.

The Leader Prep Program encourages life long learning and gives you much to think about years after your service.

In other words, you are prepared for life as a leader.

You already know that leadership embraces the notion of The Right Way, The Wrong Way, and The Army Way. What could go wrong? Start with the Army Way.

What is the Army Way?

I’m here to tell you.

As a Leadership Academy man in boot camp I led my platoon as Platoon Guide, the soldier who stands in front of the group in formation, does what the Drill Sergeant tells him to do, and listens to the men complain later.

It was a sweet gig until THAT NIGHT.

Even though training barracks were made out of cement we still had fire watches and fire drills and consequences for screwing them up.

One night it’s a fire drill. Half my guys didn’t make it to formation after falling down the steps.

Captain Taylor, the same Captain Taylor who signed my Certificate of Training, shouted for roll call.


It got to my turn.


Remember the Army Way? But my guys were still on the steps.

Drill Sergeant Easterling came over and said, “Private. Report.”

“Yes Drill Sergeant. Our guys are down on the stairs. They’re hurt.”

“Tell the Captain what he needs to hear.”

“We’re not all present and accounted for, Drill Sergeant.”

“You think you’re telling me the news? Neither are the other platoons.”

The voice came out of the darkness from the other end of the company formation.

“FOURTH PLATOON REPORT,” said Captain Taylor.

“Private, report.”

“Like we’re all present and accounted for, Drill Sergeant?”

“Just like that.”

“I can’t do that, Drill Sergeant. It’s not correct.”


“See what this does? Answer the Captain. We are all present and accounted for.”

“Drill Sergeant, I can’t…”

“ALL PRESENT AND ACCOUNTED FOR. SIR,” the Sergeant screamed.


Life long learning took a turn that night.

I learned that all present and accounted for means all present OR accounted for.

The guys not present were accounted for. I was wrong. We hadn’t covered that part at the Leadership Academy.

The next day my platoon had a new Platoon Guide.

That’s when I learned that leadership is more than a title, more than rank. It’s a willingness to respond to need, to try and set things back on track.


It starts with life long learning.

Boomers have done old math, new math, and not gone too crazy after topping out on their kids’ sixth grade math homework.

Boomers have seen their geological world redefined by plate tectonics, global warming, and imminent flo0ds of Biblical proportions.

Boomer Leadership comes from all angles with all sorts of promises and promotions.

Who to believe and who to give a, “Well, that’s an interesting point of view.”

The Fort Ord Leadership Academy isn’t Military Academy at West Point, but if you hear someone talking the sort of talk that makes you wonder where they get their authority from, ask for their Certificate of Training and see what they pull out.

Are you a life long learner? Have you lived long enough?

If you’re reading this, the answer to both is, “YES.”

Like all good boy scouts know, “Be Prepared.”


About David Gillaspie
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